Gay Canadian artist’s work on display at the Ulrich
By Grayson Barnes
“I have had the luck to lead two distinct lives.”
--Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boys Scouts Association
WICHITA - Daryl Vocat opened his April 14 Artist Talk at the Ulrich Museum of Art on the Wichita State University campus with the above quote, commenting that one might be familiar with the man who had a distinguished military career and afterward founded scouting. Lord Baden-Powell’s quote referenced his having an incredible influence twice – first as a British Army officer serving during the Second Boer War; second as a man who developed leaders among young men.
However, Vocat’s work subverts Lord Baden-Powell’s words and the idea of “two distinct lives” by examining the scouting subculture. Vocat finds the visual culture, at least, a paean of mixed messages -- piles of young men in close proximity during their developmental years in conjunction with budding feelings they are programmed to deny, especially if they are attracted to other boys.
As a gay man and a former Boy Scout, Vocat recognized the pubescent awkwardness of the illustrations in his Boy Scout Handbook. He started working with these images back in grad school by creating prints that juxtaposed slightly tweaked handbook illustrations with other pictures.
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz show on April 7 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Wichita. No. Idea. At. All. I knew Hall was a finalist on American Idol, that he did a stint as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and that this tour was to promote his 2016 (visual) album Straight Outta Oz, but that’s all I knew. Instead of googling anything before the concert, I decided to reserve judgment and “go cold,” if you will.
My first experience as I walked from the foyer into the theatre was volume-esque. The show hadn’t even started yet. The bass was cranked on a Lady Gaga mashup. I vaguely wondered if the antique plaster molding of the grand old Orpheum could handle the vibration as I took my seat, but when I looked up at the stage. I was rapt.
Projected over the set was a series of videos featuring multiple images of Hall singing and dancing with himself to covers of pop songs, interspersed with resplendent music videos of his original songs. Some showed Hall in drag, which elicited screams from the assembling audience. I later found out these were ones he created and posted to YouTube – part of what helped propel him to fame.
I was kind of disappointed when the visual feast stopped, since I had, effectively, gone to YouTube Heaven, however, as a confessed Postmodernist, I got a bigger kick out of what came next, because when the show began, it blossomed into an amalgamation of Hall’s autobiography, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, sexuality, and social commentary.
The singer takes us through his life, beginning from the time he was a shy boy. He reveals the influences of his parents – the support of his mother and the hyper-masculine bent of his father, who told him “gays don’t go to heaven.” We watch him fall in love for the first time with another boy. There is an on-stage kiss. Hall, realizing he wants to be an entertainer, begins navigating the matters of finances, self-confidence, and casting directors. Finally he makes a deal with a producer (the Wizard), who gives him his first job.
CHICAGO - A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found LGB teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal. The research noted declines in states that passed laws allowing same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for all U.S. teens. Suicidal behavior is much more common among GLB kids and adults; about 29% of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6% of straight teens.