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Hand-holding gay couple celebrated in official New York subway art

‘Our friends were even happier that this is gay representation that is not incredibly beautiful and skinny’

Hand-holding gay couple celebrated in official New York subway art
Metropolitan Transit Authority
The 72nd Street mural by Vik Muniz

A new subway line in New York, due to open 1 January, is to feature a gay couple on a mosaic mural at one of its stations.

The mural will feature at 72nd Street station, on the platform for the new Second Avenue subway line.

The mural has been created by artist Vik Muniz, and shows real-life couple Thor Stockman and Patrick Kellogg. They are included as part of the Brazilian-born artist’s ‘Perfect Strangers’ mural project.

A statement from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) described the project: ‘For 72nd Street, Vik Muniz photographed more than three dozen “characters” who represent all of the unique and quirky kinds of people one encounters on the subway.

‘These photographs have been re-created in mosaic and installed throughout the mezzanine and entrance areas, populating the station with colorful New Yorkers of all stripes.’

Muniz told Associated Press about his use of the gay couple: ‘They are just people you would expect to see … You would expect to see men holding hands.’

‘Like winning the lottery’

Stockman, 60, and Kellogg, 47, posed for the photo three years ago while meeting up with a friend who worked with Muniz.

They found out a few months ago that the image would be used in the new subway, but were asked to keep the news secret until the MTA made its announcement.

Both were delighted to be immortalized in a piece of public art – especially one that stands as a rare public example of non-political LGBTI representation.

‘It was like winning the lottery,’ said Stockman to AP. ‘Our friends were even happier that this is gay representation that is not incredibly beautiful and skinny,’ added Kellogg.

Coincidentally, news of the artwork comes three months after GSN re-printed a Facebook posting from a 50-something gay man who froze when he saw two men holding hands on the subway.

Independent film producer Peter Spears explained in a lengthy posting that public displays of affection between two men were still rare enough to make him look twice: ‘I am 50 years old, gay, married, living in New York City in 2016 and still this sight, of two men or women holding hands in public, it brings me up short every single time.

‘If you are gay and holding hands with your partner and I walk by, forgive my staring but know that someone loves you for the bravery of your love and thanks you for teaching all of us, by the smallest of gestures about the greatest gift of all. #loveislove’

Spears told GSN that he welcomed the new art: ‘I’m looking forward to being reminded that love is love every time I ride the 2nd Ave subway!’

The Second Avenue Subway Line will begin operating on 1 January 2017. Other artists to have their work featured in stations will include Chuck Close and Sarah Sze.


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