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When the famous rainbow gay pride flag was first pieced together by a man named Gilbert Baker in 1978, he used eight colors. Each one represented a certain idea.
There was red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. That first version also had two other colors that would be left out of later flags: pink, which represented sex, and turquoise, art.
Christina Linden said she kept those last two at the front of her mind as she put together, “Queer California: Untold Stories,” an exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California that opened earlier this month.
The Boy Mechanic/ Los Angeles 2005–2019.CreditCourtesy of the Oakland Museum of California
“I think that we used that as a moment to frame the whole show around the question of what gets left out, and why and things get left out,” she told me recently.
A timeline traces LGBTQ stories and asks viewers to imagine a queer future. Pictured here is an AIDS Memorial Quilt including squares for Jon Langley, Bob, Sylvester, Roger Lyon, Greg Monaghan, Roberto Arcelona, John M. Ritter, and Bill Sullivan.CreditCourtesy of the Oakland Museum of California.
The exhibition isn’t comprehensive, Ms. Linden said. Still, she said she hoped to include a wide range of kinds of pieces, from images of drag performers in the 1950s, to a map of historically lesbian places in California, to art about the experience of living in a transgender body, like a large bronze and concrete sculpture by Cassils.
Ms. Linden said the exhibition goes back even further with material from the 17th century that shows there was a third gender in indigenous culture before European settlers came to California.
“I think very few people know about that longer history,” she said.
And if you need a break from information that can be pretty heavy, Ms. Linden said, there’s a “Gayme room.”
The show is open until Aug. 11. Here’s more information about how to go to the Oakland Museum of California.