Blog / 2022 / “Is Gwenn Seemel a Lesbian?”
June 15, 2022
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what artists are known for, like Jackson Pollock’s drips or Kara Walker’s silhouettes. It got me wondering what I’m known for, not because I’m comparing myself to artists like these ones—people who’ve achieved extraordinary fame—but because understanding how others perceive us can help us to be better, more thoughtful people.
My being seen as a woman impacts every interaction I have with every person I meet—from the stranger on the street who takes my identity as an invitation to comment on my appearance to the client who decides that it’s an invitation to hit on me. Similarly, the work I’ve created in the past influences how my audience understands the art I’m making today.
Specifically, my book Crime Against Nature affects how my art is understood. Because if I had to pick one aspect of my work that’s on par with Louise Bourgeois’ spiders, it would have to be that project.
Right as the book came out in late 2012 and early 2013, I got some good press for it, including an article on Boing Boing that netted me a healthy amount of sales and sent thousands upon thousand of people looking for the free download of the book. Around that same time, a new query started cropping up in the referrers for my site:
“Is Gwenn Seemel a lesbian?”
In other words, after I released a book about the queerness of the natural world, people started doing internet searches about my sexuality and clicking through to my home on the web looking for answers.
And this was just the beginning of how Crime Against Nature changed things for me. The fact is that this project along with my audience’s reactions to it have shaped me. Crime Against Nature has given me both deeply unpleasant as well thoroughly healing experiences, and, most recently, it got me invited to participate in a documentary film!
Today, to celebrate Pride month in the tenth year since Crime Against Nature came out, I’d like to officially answer the popular internet search that the book initially provoked.
Am I a lesbian?
The “no” is that I’m a low-key genderfree womanish person whose favorite human and intimate partner is a cis man.
The “yes” is something akin to what Brittney Cooper describes in her essay “Capital B, Capital F” which appears in her book Eloquent Rage:
“The thing I know today, after many cycles of homegirls, many more years of girl crushes, and a life of straight sexual activity, is that one can’t truly be a feminist if you don’t really love women. And loving women is deeply and unapologetically queer as fuck.”
Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!
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