We were here: The gay rub of history comes to St. Louis

Indeed, we all have a story to tell and sometimes it takes the form of an honest tombstone of a pioneering same-sex couple who are otherwise lost to history.

“I think there is a history that has been lost and there’s been a lot of coded language to discuss queer people,” offers Reigns. “Men were confirmed bachelors or single men and women were unkindly called spinsters. I like that this project is bringing attention to these people and the love that they were living.”

The Gay Rub will be an ongoing project and new markers and historical sites to record are being identified every day. Anyone interested in participating in the project can register at Reigns’ website. Who knows, it just might change how you think about the individual or event you are recording.

“I was doing a rubbing for Franklin Pangborn who was a character actor who played the fussy, flamboyant gay man. Quite honestly, I always had a distaste for that character, ” concludes Reigns. “But when doing his rubbing and spending time with the marker (and he’s buried with his family) I started to think about how hard it must have been to be him at that time. Looking back through the lens of today, I see how it’s easy for me to pass judgment. But I thought how difficult it must have been for him to live as a gay man and realize he was the punch line for the jokes he was telling.”

The Gay Rub runs Aug. 28 – Sept. 18, 2015 at The Cecille R. Hunt Gallery at Webster University. A special artist’s lecture featuring Reigns will be held on Friday, Aug. 28 at Sverdrup Room 123 at Webster University from Noon – 1 p.m. and will be followed by an Opening Reception at the Gallery from 6-8 p.m.

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