|Magnet supporters and staff celebrated the organization‚Äôs 9th anniversary with proclamations and cupcakes. PHOTO‚ÄąBY‚ÄąRINK
Currently on display on the walls of Magnet at 18th and Castro are the brilliant photos of Damon McLay in ‚ÄúIf Our Walls Could Talk.‚ÄĚ
Born into the picturesque artist and fishing community of Homer, Alaska, Damon McLay was raised in a very conservative Christian family.
Digital art and photography became his primary means of expressing the struggles and pains he experienced as a gay man fully immersed in a religion that forced him to suppress his nature, ‚Äúsuffering a warped and abusive affair at the hands a ‚Äėspiritual leader,‚Äô and spending far too many years in a heterosexual marriage where I tried to carve myself into the role of a ‚Äėnormal‚Äô man.‚ÄĚ Sister Dana can soooo relate!
McLay continues, ‚ÄúIn 2004, I found the courage to walk away from all those lies, and in 2005, I left Alaska to begin a new life in San Francisco. I came to the city to explore the freedom of self-acceptance, the richness of gay community, to discover new opportunities, warmer climates and exciting adventures.‚ÄĚ
With each different facet of his art, strong contrast and rich texture are dominant themes - whether it‚Äôs creating emotive male character photographs grounded in story-telling, macro perspectives revealing the abstract beauty in everyday objects, or photo layerings that weave multiple images in and around a central figure to create a painting-like world of intricate discovery.
His message? ‚ÄúAs gay men, finding acceptance in our world continues to be a tremendous struggle. Ironically, it can often be just as challenging to find acceptance within our own community. My artwork is an appeal for us to acknowledge and embrace one another as the beautifully complex individuals we are.‚ÄĚ
I have five McLay favorites. ‚ÄúCocoon‚ÄĚ is a man with a gorgeous body standing completely covered and, at the same time, completely exposed. He looks out through a small hole in his covering.
In ‚ÄúDiverted Dreams,‚ÄĚ in a dark walkway, a man sits against a cold stone wall sobbing. What has brought him to this place?
‚ÄúHandle with Care‚ÄĚ depicts a man sitting in a large cardboard box filled with packing peanuts; head, arms and feet sticking out. Where‚Äļs he going and does he have enough postage to get there?
‚ÄúContemplation‚ÄĚ shows a naked man with a stunning body sitting with tears running down his cheeks and a gun in his hand. What is he considering?
‚ÄúBear Bliss‚ÄĚ is 18 pounds of gummy bears and one very handsome bear!