On Sept. 29, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward), Howard Brown Health, Northalsted Business Alliance and Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events unveiled a mural featuring queer interdisciplinary artist and holistic healer Kiam Marcelo Junio at the corner of 3245 N. Halsted St.
The 750-square-foot mural, which is on the side of Howard Brown Health in Boystown, is the work of artists Sandra Antongiorgi, Andy Bellomo and Sam Kirk, and aims to honor non-binary people while opening a dialogue about intersectionality within the LGBTQ community.
During the unveiling Tunney said, "I'm thrilled about [the mural]. … Art is for the neighborhoods, not just for museums."
The mural features a portrait of Junio and is adorned with 22-carat gold leafing and abstract line work as well as other designs.
Kirk said, "For me, I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. … I came out 23 years ago. I often found myself in Boystown trying to find my identity. I was that kid who wanted to see something that looks like myself. I still live on the South Side of the city and I don't see those images."
Antongiorgi added, "There's a power in images; creating this was a big responsibility. When we see images, it can awaken something dormant within us, something we didn't know we had, whether good or bad. Painting this mural was about finding the truth and expressing your true self. This wall is about the truth of who we are as a community. It sends a strong message that needed to be heard, and this was the best way to send it."
Howard Brown Health CEO and President David Ernesto Munar said, "This painting vibrates love, it vibrates power. It celebrates the power of our community. At a time like this this work needs to be seen. As they were working on it, so many people kept asking, 'What is it? It's beautiful.'"
Junio, after thanking the artists for choosing them as the subject of what they hope to be the first of several community queer murals celebrating non-binary individuals throughout the city asked the gathering what they thought they "deserve," before launching into a musical interlude. They later said, "This mural is for queer people by queer people for queer people, but I do not represent the entire [LGBTQ] community. I represent the power of only one individual. I am the reflection of the people in my life."
They added, "Don't just ask yourself what you deserve, but as an individual ask yourself, 'Who are you?' Are you creating spaces for others to thrive? … This mural is the cover of a book we are still writing."