BYU Pulls Student’s Gay-Themed Photography from Group Show


Via Slog comes word of some censorship at Brigham Young University.

The artist, Michael, describes the project:

“These portraits are of students of BYU who identify themselves as homosexual and a person that supports them. With all of the dissenting views regarding this topic in the past few months I have felt very strongly about this project. The portraits will be shown in pairs. The idea is that there are gay and lesbian individuals not only in the Mormon culture, but also at BYU. I also chose to photograph someone who is a support to this person. This could be a family member or friend. This support person may also identify themselves as homosexual and both people may provide support to each other. I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.”

Apparently that was too controversial a topic for the school and Michael’s works were taken down and the show rearranged. The artist found out from a friend who went to the show that his works had been removed. Here are a few more of the images.



  1. BD says

    I mean, are they really surprised??? Its fricken BYU! They should have went to one of the literally thousands of colleges that are GLBT friendly. Why a gay person would give their thousands of dollars of tuition money to an institution that has been openly hostile to gays in the past is beyond me. Bring your talent (and money) to institutions that actually support us!

  2. Rick in Ohio says

    Talk about being at the front lines!

    Cheers to the BYU LGBT students and their supporters. Good for you for being out and at BYU at the same time.

    Do not let anyone take away your faith.

  3. says

    Perfect. More bad publicity for the mormons. Now maybe the world will begin to understand why there’s so much anger directed at them. There are no other cults or religious groups in America that are as virulently anti-gay as the mormons. I’m surprised they didn’t tar & feather the artist and discipline those who participated.

    We really need to strengthen our resolve with the selective boycotts against mormon owned and mormon managed businesses. It’s the only way to make them change their evil ways.

  4. Strepsi says

    Love the art.
    Love the concept.
    Love the photographs – a really nice portrait style, witht he eyes in sharp focus and the blurred edges.

    Now I am going to say something controversial: you can not be happily gay and Mormon. Nor can you be happily gay and Catholic. You just can’t. So pick one. Pick gay, it’s less hateful!

  5. says

    Looks like the blogger is taking down the blog even as I type this. Every time I hit ‘Refresh’ a few more of his posts go away.

    Hope you’re doing okay, Michael, whoever you are. You take great photographs.

  6. g_whiz says

    This is upsetting for multiple reasons. One, the gallery didn’t have the stones to tell the young man directly that they were omitting/censoring his work. Two, that they’re censoring his work at all! Its a really clever idea, only too disapointing antiquated religiosity has gone to such lengths to deny him the ability to showcase it. I hope he gets the platform he deserves.

  7. jake says

    I currently go to BYU; the story I have heard from another person in the class that the project was done for is that.
    a) the pictures had to be removed because they were being defaced; ignorant students had written biggoted things on the faces of the portraits.
    b) in the last day he has been informed by the BYU administration that he may face discipline or be kicked out school for ‘promoting a homosexual agenda’, since promoting homosexuality, or ‘committing homosexual acts’ is against the ‘honor code’ that all students must sign.

  8. Jake says

    not to mention that there has apparently been no interest by the BYU administration in finding how who defaced the pictures, or investigating it as a hate crime.

  9. MAJeff says

    How surprising that the “good” people running BYU would work to destroy gay lives.

    I’m shocked–shocked, I say!–that an anti-gay organization like the LDS Church and BYU would do such a thing.

  10. dave says

    Brilliant work Michael. Brilliant. Beautiful images of friendships that should inspire anyone. The administration at BYU is frightened by the love and humanity and power of what you have revealed. More power to your art.

    I think that if your work was being defaced, that’s another transition for the images – however sad – that witnesses the reality of the environment those friendships exist in.

    I’d like to see more of your work. Michael, Andy, someone please let us know where to find them.

  11. john says

    How about “art” honoring the gay holocaust at BYU over aversion shock ’em until they change therapy? Pictures of the BYU students who took their own life after undergoing this therapy. Pictures of the shock ’em chair, the voltage amperage and current required to change into normal human beings?

  12. says

    Will you please help us spread the word? We’re hoping to represent many points of views and explore a wide variety of topics in this exhibition. We are honored to have such prestigious jurors. Besides the reception with live performances, there will also be a separate evening of discussion and film. Thank you for your time.

    Cheryl Bennett

    2nd City Council
    Art Gallery + Performance Space
    435 Alamitos Avenue
    Long Beach, CA 90802
    562 901-0997



    2nd City Council Art Gallery + Performance Space announces a national call to artists for Being Gay: A Visual Dialogue between Straight and/or LGBTQ Artists. The exhibition explores such topics (but is not limited to) faith and homosexuality, gay history, sense of community, effect on professional life or society, gay neighborhoods, fashion, homophobia, straight people in gay places, ageism in the gay community, gay role models, ordinary lives, coming out, gay icons or heroes, discrimination, homosexuality as an evolutionary puzzle, integrating into society, political issues, is tolerance enough?, marriage, PRIDE, engaging in gay rights issues across cultural and religious borders, feelings associated with being gay, regional differences, gay as a main identifier, gay friends or family members.

    The exhibition runs March 7, 2009 – April 1, 2009. In addition to the reception with live music, there will be a separate evening of lecture and discussion as well as film.

    The three distinguished jurors for this exhibition are David Burns, Austin Young and Matias Viegener (bios listed below).

    Entry Receipt Deadline is Sunday, January 18, 2009.

    Cash Awards of $500, $300, $200 and $100 plus the infamous eye opener award.

    Entry fees $10 for members, $20 for non-members. Volunteer hours at the gallery or online welcome. Please contact our Volunteer Coordinate, Judy Cocuzza at

    All media except video and motion film. Slides, photographs or email submissions accepted.

    For a prospectus or more information regarding the exhibition please email the gallery or visit our website at



    David Burns is a visual artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. His recent video work has shown in festivals and galleries including; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, The Tate Modern/, London, The Armenian Museum of Experimental Art, Seoul Museum of Art, Korea, Florean Museum of Art, Romania, and in festivals including; InsideOUT, ADD-TV, Pressplay, Mix Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, NEWFEST and others. Burns’ recent art projects have been shown at Ars Electronica, Austria, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Netherlands Architecture Institute at Maastricht, The Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, The Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, Momenta, Another Year in L.A., Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Acuna-Hansen, Bonelli Contemporary, 18th Street Arts Center, LA Freewaves, Track 16, The Armory Center for the Arts, Machine Project, WORKS, REDCAT, MESSHALL, and Artists Space. Recent reviews and publishing may be seen in The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, ArtForum, Cabinet, Paper, Rhizome, Mother Jones, Artillery, Los Angeles Magazine, READYMADE, The O.C. Weekly, The L.A. Weekly, FAB magazine, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, and more. Recent curatorial projects include: BUMP, co-curated with Margie Schnibbe, EMBODIED TECHOLOGIES, co-curated with Legier Beiderman, ARTLUST, co-curated with Bruce Yonemoto, MP4-FEST and OPEN ARCHITECTURE, co-curated with Saskia Wilson-Brown. Awards include: ARTMATTERS, YouTube Featured Video, LA Weekly’s Best of L.A., new media award, Yahoo! Best of the Web, Berkeley Film Festival, Best Experimental, Eye-Opener Award / 2nd City Council, The Medici Scholars Grant.


    Austin Young is an artist based in Los Angeles who works primarily in photography and video. His photography has been published regularly in Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, as well as Surface, Flaunt, Vogue, Spin, Rolling Stone, Q, Taschen’s 1000 Favorite Websites and many others. He has worked with performance artists Diamanda Galas, Margaret Cho, Skinny Puppy, Holy Body Tattoo and The Velvet Hammer Burlesque creating their recent images. His portraiture includes; Leigh Bowery, Lypsinka, Siouxsie Sioux, Nina Hagen, Debbie Harry, Jimmy Scott, John Doe, Sandra Bernhard, Ziyi Zhang, Mark Almond, Ann Magnuson, Amy Poehler, Chris Crocker, Jeffree Star and more. Recent projects have shown in galleries including; Artists Space, Netherlands Architecture Institute at Maastricht, The Craft and Folk Art Museum, University Art Gallery at UC Irvine, Another Year in L.A., Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, The LA Center for Digital Art, and The Armory Center for the Arts. Recent videos have screened at InsideOUT, Mix Festival, Frameline, Reeling, MIX NYC and The Silver Lake Film Festival. The short video entitled “The Stroke” won best of 2003 from ADD-TV and “Strange Fruit” won best experimental short at The Silver Lake Film Festival. Reviews and editorials include; The Los Angeles Times, Cabinet, Paper, Los Angeles Magazine, READYMADE, The L.A. Weekly, Frontiers, Elegy, Digitalis Photo, Phase, and Premonition. He recently completed a feature length documentary, “Hadda Brooks, This is My Life,” about torch singer, Hadda Brooks, which will be shown at festivals this year.


    Matias Viegener is a Los Angeles based writer, artist and critic who teaches in Critical Studies and the MFA Writing Program at CalArts. He works alone and collaboratively in writing, video, installation and performance art. He has shown solo work or performed at The Whitney Museum, The Kitchen and The Drawing Center in New York, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), New Langton Arts in San Francisco, Beyond Baroque, Machine Project, the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), The Silver Lake Film Festival, and the LaJolla Museum of Contemporary Art. He is a co-founder of Fallen Fruit (, which has shown work internationally in museums and galleries. He has co-edited two books, Séance in Experimental Writing and The Noulipian Analects with Christine Wertheim, with whom he directs a series of international experimental writing conferences annually at REDCAT in Los Angeles. He is the editor and co-translator of Georges Batailles’ The Trial of Gilles de Rais. He has published fiction and criticism in Black Clock, Bomb, Artforum, Art Issues, ArtUS, Artweek, Afterimage, Cabinet, Cargo, Critical Quarterly, High Performance, Framework, Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, American Book Review, Fiction International, Radical History Review, Paragraph, Semiotext(e), Suspect Thoughts, and X-tra, for whom he regularly writes on visual art. His criticism appears in the anthologies Queer Looks: Lesbian & Gay Experimental Media, and Camp Grounds: Gay & Lesbian Style. He also has fiction in the anthologies Men on Men 3, Sundays at Seven, Dear World, Vital Signs and Discontents, edited by Dennis Cooper.

  13. Brit says

    I know he is trying to make a statement but BYU has a very strict honor code and this is a very obvious violation of it. When he became a student at BYU he promised, in writing, to abide by that code. So… technically he was wrong to break his promise and legally BYU was right. They had a contract and he broke it. That is all.

  14. Martin says

    People who constantly bash BYU and the LDS religion for things that happen like this taking down of a project, when they have done nothing to find out the reasons behind it, show how incredibly mean and thoughtless THEY are. LDS does not call LGBT bigoted for their beliefs; but they call all religions who have a belief that LGBAT is against the will of a loving Heavenly Father as BIGOTED. Then they hatefully fuel the fire of hate against the religion, claiming that IT is full of hate. The hatred is really coming from the LGBT people who keep claiming war against all who do not feel the same way as they do.

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