If you were planning to see Gonzalo Orquin's installation of photos featuring gay couples kissing in the Vatican last September, you were rightfully disappointed when the Vatican shut it down—Old Testament style. The Vatican sent this letter (translated from Italian) to the gallery owners:
"We have learned from the press that you are planning soon to open an exhibition with the title 'Trialogo', comprising a number of pictures that are not approved by the competent church authorities, showing expressions of affection that do not belong in a place of worship. In accordance with the law, we herewith formally caution the gallery for contemporary art not to show photos or images which are offensive and harmful to the religious feelings of individuals, to the nature of worship in the Church and to the official religious Confession.
"We warn that if the present caution is not punctually complied with, the Church authorities will not hesitate to have full recourse to the law and in particular to take action in the competent legal courts in order to protect all legal interests and violated rights."
Catholic guys objecting to "expressions of affection that do not belong in a place of worship?" The irony abounds.
But there's good news! From April 30 through June 24, Window Gallery of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art will feature the site-specific installation Si, quiero, (I do), 24 hours a day.
Interestingly, Orquin himself identifies as Catholic. In a recent interview in The Advocate, he said that the LGBTQ community “may be ashamed to publicly demand their rights. Politicians are busy with other things and then there is the church. Every day there is a bishop or cardinal who goes on TV to say that homosexuals are sick and the natural family needs to be protected. I feel deep anger and shame every time a member of the church insults me in this way. I pray that God will forgive them and I have faith that Pope Francis will help us, why not?"
He also laments that "The desire and the need to have a law that protects same-sex couples in Italy is very strong. But sadly, for me Italy remains the most homophobic Western country."
Nonetheless, Orquin has worked in Italy since 2004, and his devotion to his country is evident in his featuring of the Vatican, a decidedly Italian landmark, however homophobic it proves to be.
The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art is located at 26 Wooster Street in New York City.
>>>Click through for a sampling of Orquin's photos