Students tackle issue of gender identity by cross dressing administrators in photos
If you have walked past the ICC this morning, you might have noticed certain posters that differ from the typical Red Square fare. These are result of a student project spearheaded by Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) and Giuliana Cucci (a stage name), which aims to engage the Georgetown community on gender identity and expression issues as well as to exercise the right to free speech on the Hilltop.
At first glance, the images appear to be simply an homage to Andy Warhol classics, such as the Marilyn or Mao prints. Upon closer inspection, the subjects of the multi-colored portraits are those quite familiar to the Georgetown community: Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, President Jack DeGioia, Rev. Kevin O’Brian, S.J., Pope Francis and John Carroll. Each person featured has been clad in apparel and hairstyles of the gender opposite from their own. Each poster also contains a quote from the featured figure as well as Rev. James Walsh, S.J.
So what message does an eye-shadowed Jack DeGioia send to the Georgetown community? Lloyd and Cucci have dual mission.
First, they hope to confront Georgetown’s usually adverse response to unconventional gender identity and expression. To be clear, gender identity refers to one’s personal identification to a gender, which may or may not match with their biologically determined sex. Gender expression is all mannerisms and grooming that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine.
In an email to Vox, Lloyd cited instances of friction between Georgetown and gender and sexuality issues: “We reflected on…the continual rejection of the ‘Rainbow’ Magis Row house, and other official statements about Gender, like Todd Olson’s quote in last semester’s Voice feature.” Lloyd also spoke to hostile verbal responses from the community and the resultant anxiety he and Cucci felt.
Second, Lloyd and Cucci intend to exercise their right to free speech as Georgetown students. While creating these images, the two felt a fear of what the administration’s response would be. That feeling of fear drove them to evolve the project to involve both gender and free speech.
Lloyd wrote, “Because we felt this fear, we knew it was necessary to put out the images to push through that self-censorship bubble. The project then took on a dual-meaning, gender expression AND free speech.”
Cucci, the artist behind the posters, explains why Warhol was her muse of choice: “Warhol’s repetitive normalizing pop art juxtaposes a queering of gender very nicely.”
At the end of the day, what do Lloyd and Cucci hope to accomplish with these provocative posters?
Lloyd wrote, “We want to raise awareness about issues of gender and gender expression on campus. We want to encourage other groups to use the absurd, the arts, and truly free expression in future advocacy. And also, we want to glam up campus.”
Featured photo courtesy Thomas Lloyd
Photo in Red Square: Isabel Echarte/Georgetown Voice