Last semester, art students in Brett Colley’s GVSU class on printmaking, invited me to come talk about the Grand Rapids People’s History Project. The intent of the class was to have students investigate their own part of a People’s History of Grand Rapids and then make a print based upon an individual social movement or a particular moment in Grand Rapids history.
This print is by Alyssa Medina and it depicts two things about the history of the struggle for justice by the LGBTQ community in Grand Rapids in the early 1990s. First, the image that the artist uses is from a news clip about the 1991 Grand Rapids City Commission meeting, where members of the LGBTQ community were lobbying for an update in the anti-discrimination ordinance to include “sexual orientation.”
The other aspect of this print that makes it powerful, is its inclusion of names of some of the businesses at the time, which were publicly against the city ordinance campaign being organized by members of the LGBTQ community in Grand Rapids in the early 1990s. This list was put together by community members and published in The Network’s newsletter, which you can see here on the left.
The campaign to get the Grand Rapids City Commission to include the LGBTQ community in its anti-discrimination ordinance eventually passed in 1994.