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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It All Started Here...

Categories: B-town's Rainbow Flavor

To me, it's not a stretch to say the modern gay-rights movement had it's beginnings, in, of all places, Bloomington, Indiana.  That's right, this progressive, small but mighty college town has an integral role in gay history.  As home to the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington can lay claim to being the place where all the research was compiled for the groundbreaking works by Dr. Alfred Kinsey that influenced an entire society's view and opinion about human sexual behavior.  The first volume, published January 5, 1948 entitled Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was followed in September 1953 with Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.  Together, they changed the perception about sexuality in general, and, specifically, reported that homosexual tendencies were much more common than ever thought before.

The Kinsey Institute Gallery is a great way to visit this one-of-a-kind facility and see some of its collection of artwork, artifacts and photography.  Currently on exhibit is the Third Annual Juried Art Show, featuring almost 80 works from a truly international group of contemporary artists.  The exhibit includes photographs, sculptures, paintings, prints and mixed media pieces.  The gallery is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  The exhibit overflows from the Gallery and is featured throughout the hallways of the Institute. 

I have to tell you - this is a must-see attraction.  Every time I visit, I can't believe the elevator doors opening up and seeing the very simple sign "Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction."  And it's right here, in Bloomington, and full of history at every turn.  From the moment you walk in, there is artwork and other collectibles on exhibit everywhere you look.  One of my favorites is a letter from Sigmund Freud to a mother concerned about her son's homosexuality.  Freud, in a moving handwritten letter, attempts to put the woman's fears at ease by stating that homosexuality is not abnormal and certainly not shameful.  Talk about poignant and affirming. 

The list goes on - from Asian erotic art that is hundreds of years old to an impressive collection of Russian work - the collection is vast, encompassing cultures and perspectives from all corners of the globe.  The Gallery itself changes it's exhibit every 3-4 months, with the current Juried Show on exhibit through July 25. 

The Kinsey Institute is located in the heart of the beautiful Indiana University campus in Morrison Hall #313.  For more information, visit their website or call 812.855.7686.  Guided tours or visits outside the regular operating hours of the Gallery can be accommodated.  So, do yourself a favor and experience the Kinsey Institute and enjoy one of the most provocative and educational attractions in Bloomington.  On your way out, you can purchase a variety of souvenirs from Pat at the front desk.  You won't be disappointed and probably will want to make a return trip as the exhibit changes.  It's very fitting that this research institute has the most extensive collection of art & artifacts relating to human sexual behavior in the world.  After all - thanks to Dr. Kinsey, it all started here.

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