Today is Go Topless Day, an event intended to raise awareness about the double standard inherent in banning women from going without a shirt. So it’s fitting that a Chicagotransgender woman filed a lawsuit against the city last week seeking to overturn its ban on female toplessness. Queer and transgender performance artist Bea Sullivan-Knoff is hoping to change the ordinance that prohibits bars and other venues with a liquor license from allowing women to expose their chests “at or below the areola,” despite allowing men to do so, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
“The law as it currently stands is sexist and transphobic. It only allows people who have a certain body type to be able to perform in a certain way. And it prohibits people of other body types to be able to do the exact same thing,” Sullivan-Knoff said.
She says the ordinance’s limitations have made it challenging for her to perform her act, which often relies on her showing her chest. In one piece, the lawsuit describes, Sullivan-Knoff appears “with her body wrapped in a sheet and her head covered by a brown paper bag, which has `Touch Me’ written on all four sides.” After allowing the audience to touch her body for five minutes, she removes the paper bag.
“Since most of this negative rhetoric centers on the specifics of trans bodies, and most times invasively so, I most often perform about the body, which often involves the presence of my nude body or partially nude body onstage, in an attempt to reclaim a part of myself too often taken from me,” Sullivan-Knoff said at a Wednesday news conference outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.
Some critics have said that the suit is a backdoor attempt to loosen restrictions on strip clubs, which are currently prohibited from serving alcohol while allowing dancers to show their nipples. Only one Chicago strip club currently serves alcohol. Supporters of the ordinance say it protects women from abuse by drunk patrons.
“That’s exactly why we filed this lawsuit,” attorney Mary Grieb explained at the press conference. “That idea, that notion, that justification reflects 19th-century standards on protecting women and needing to keep women safe. There’s no reason that men can be topless in an establishment and women can’t.”
I’m watching frida and i swear this is just gonna fuel my love for frida kahlo, she’s just so important to me as a queer, disabled artist ehhh feels weird calling myself an artist bc i’m so inactive right now but yeah she’s just amazing
Let me tell you why I like @tawseet-al-sharq. Not only do they support Arabian art, they also support and promote Arab queer artists! Their goal, and I quote, is to “start displaying queer arab art n words for the younger generation so they know we have to define our own culture using what we have in our culture and one of the ways is art, writing and loving our queerness and Arabness”
I am so excited about this new album! I don’t fanboy often, but when I do it manifests like this. I’m a broke ass artist and can’t afford the fly posters for the new album, so I made my own. Friday can’t come fast enough!!
I work with a nonprofit in ATX and it focuses on teaching arts education to kiddos throughout the school year and summer, both after school and in the classroom. This summer I had to great fortune to be able to lead some summertime instruction with a bunch of young people doing all sorts of fun stuff together.
In this one instance, I was helping this group of young people build a cardboard city to paint when they came up to me unable to tear some tape. And while helping them, they revealed to me that they identify as non-binary when I suggested they use their “man muscles” to tear the tape. They’re going into first grade. I’m relieved that so many young people are discovering themselves outside our gender binary and can remind adults to cleanse our speech of unnecessary and limiting gender conforming language.
I applaud their confidence in letting me know about how they identify. It takes guts to correct an adult as a young person, and that kid has guts!
Cat Collar is the result of the anger I harbor at feeling unsafe going anywhere. The constant nagging that someone is going to say something to make me uncomfortable. The fear that I have to act a certain way or risk danger. The frustration of being sexualized since I was in 5th grade. About all those times I wanted to move seats on the bus. Here’s what came of all that.
Meet Fin Lee, a 29-year-old Aquarius and also the queer first generation korean american who’s responsible for the cosmic doodles all over Lady Gaga’s crew during her Bowie tribute at the Grammys.
We chatted with Fin to learn a bit more about how the heck she got to do such an awesome thing! Finn.. how did you get to do this awesome thing?
I have a fabulous friend (I’ve known since 2008) who works with [Gaga’s] stylists. He thought I would be a great fit for this project and asked me to submit my portfolio to his boss. As quickly as I sent the email I got a confirmation they liked my work! It literally felt like it was a “no big deal” moment cause it was so nonchalant… but then, it really was. My work spans from doodles, illustration, coffee bag designs, murals, and now, costumes!
Tell us about the design on the costumes:
So originally when I was confirmed to be the artist, I was given some reference photos to work off with. Then was given some direction in terms of various themes: mostly space, weird, odd, abstract, and basically, bowie! I did my own homage to Bowie (as well as his hero, Egon Schiele) with my portraits of his hands.
Schiele was very expressive in his portraits and would contort his hands in seemingly “awkward” positions but it’s because he would mimic his own hero (who was a famous artist in the early 1900s known for his hand drawings). I basically got to have a lot of fun and, to be honest, just doodle. There was a lot of hustle as well: I had to finish 4 of those suits last minute the night before/morning of the Grammys.
What did this opportunity mean to you?
“I have never worked on a project that got media coverage beyond the internet, let alone the Grammys. It was super special to have that moment, especially with my mom. She’s been such an amazing supporter of my art and also of being queer. She’s always said that if I work hard, good things will happen. She was surely right. I never worked so hard in my life and the feelings was beyond cosmic.
Happy Artist Blackout, yall! Its amazing being a part of the black artist community, and I wanna thank every one of you all for being there for me these past year as I began prioritizing my art. I appreciate all your love and support as I grow this part of myself. The journey has been amazing so far and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!