Oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Happy gay and lesbian animal couples mingle with today’s GLBT celebrities in “Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise” by Ohio artist Paul Richmond.
His gay version of Noah’s ark even has drowning sinners -- opponents of gay rights such as Ann Coulter, Ken Starr, Pat Boone, Fred Phelps, and even Larry Craig with his toilet! Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie come out of the closet to watch from a porthole as a “God hates fags” sign sinks beneath the waves. Elsewhere on the cruise ship, human couples include Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Elton John and David Furnish, and Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter. Even the fictional cowboys of “Brokeback Mountain” get another chance at love.
“I chose to symbolize our inevitable victory in the fight for marriage equality by painting my own adaptation of the biblical flood,” Richmond says.
He was moved to create the work after California’s Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage last fall. Demonstrations across the United States in support of marriage equality inspired Richmond to paint a wickedly funny satire on the classic Bible story.
In Genesis 6-9, God commands Noah to gather his family and heterosexual pairs of animals into a boat to rescue them from the global flood sent to destroy human evil and the violence of nature. After the flood, a rainbow appears as a symbol of God’s promise never again to destroy all life on earth.
How appropriate that the rainbow has become a symbol of GLBT pride! Richmond puts a fresh twist on the Biblical epic with his sweeping vision of a gay-positive new world. A rainbow flag flies high on the mast of Noah’s gay cruise ship. “As the clouds begin to part, a heavenly rainbow appears in the sky to remind hopeful voyagers that full legal recognition and acknowledgement of same-sex love is just over the horizon,” Richmond explains.
His vision is artistically beautiful, politically meaningful -- and packed with visual jokes and pop-culture references that are great fun to find.
One of my favorite scenes is Larry Craig clinging to a toilet for dear life (detail below). The former Idaho Senator voted against gay-rights laws… and then got arrested for soliciting gay sex in a men’s restroom.
“Larry Craig was the first part I painted because I just couldn’t wait to throw that toilet at him!” Richmond told me.
The painting also satisfies my longing for GLBT-positive images of animals. Richmond painted wonderful same-sex pairings of cuddling elephants, giraffes, penguins, chimps, and, of course, flamingos. (Another detail below.)
The painting was well received (except by religious conservatives) and was named “the gayest painting of our time” by towleroad.com.
Richmond, now 29, came out as gay after graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio. “My work is an exploration of sexuality and identity through narrative painting,” he says. “I draw inspiration from my own experiences as a young gay man from a conservative environment to break down the social constructs that exist around sexual orientation and gender roles. Through colorful, illustrative, and sometimes humorous paintings, I expose the grey areas that become overshadowed by black and white moral codes.”
“Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise” is available as a limited-edition giclee print from the artist’s online shop at etsy.com. I bought one for our collection and am delighted with its quality, artistry and message.
P.S. “Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise” has been selected for inclusion in this year’s OUTAuction benefiting GLAAD and celebrating their Top 100 Artists of the Year on Nov. 15. The artist says, “I’m so excited to have been chosen, and especially to be able to contribute that particular painting. Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise is getting ready to set sail for it’s last voyage! :)”
Update on Sept. 16, 2011: BW16 of the Objective Queer Bible Scholar blog offers another queer interpretation of the Noah’s Arc story: “This classic Sunday school tale includes a number of LGBT motifs, my favorite being the command from God to Noah to ‘take two of every kind’ on the ark (6:20), presumably this would include couplings of heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, and pan-sexuals.” For more info, see BW16’s post “Two of Every Kind” Intercourse Texture in Noah’s Ark.
The following links may be used to place an order:
12” x 15” giclee prints of “Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise”:
16” x 20” giclee prints of “Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise”: