CALL FOR PROPOSALS – HomoEconomics: LGBTQ Histories of the Brooklyn Waterfront

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History is excited to announce the call for proposals for our next show, a scatter-site-specific investigation of the queer histories of the beloved borough where the museum got its start: Brooklyn. Entitled “HomoEconomics,” this show will investigate Brooklyn’s past and present as a site of queer cultural creation, gentrification, economic empowerment, libidinous freedom, statist oppression, excitement, fear, hope, and possibility.

HomoEconomics will Pop-Up around Brooklyn in a series of events in the late summer / early fall of 2013. We seek proposals for talks, performances, walking tours, screenings, discussions, and workshops of all kinds. The Pop-Up Museum is also seeking proposals for a series of HomoEconomics broadsides, which will extend the reach of the show by creating double-sided queer history posters which we will distribute around the country.


Questions or concerns should be sent to

All proposals are due by Friday, April 26

Please share this call with your networks and join us on Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter!

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History seeks submissions for its upcoming show HomoEconomics. The show will explore the diverse histories of Brooklyn’s waterfront and will pop up around Brooklyn in Summer of 2013. This year’s show will consist of two parts: a series of broadsheets that present historical topics visually, to be posted on streets around Brooklyn’s waterfront, and a series of performances, talks, community gatherings, and related events to further explore the waterfronts and the stories they hold. We intend to start new conversations about the queer history and contemporary life of Brooklyn.

We are especially interested in proposals that investigate the connections between race, class and sexuality in Brooklyn waterfront spaces and surrounding neighborhoods; and proposals that make use of local and national archival collections at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society, among others.

Individuals and teams should propose projects that are thought-provoking and engaging explorations of the history of the Brooklyn waterfront as a queer space.

This project is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).


The urban waterfront has often doubled as a fringe space. Historically, it has functioned as a kind of refuge from the more surveilled regions of the city. As a result, marginalized people and communities have found room for the expression of outlaw sexuality, non-normative genders, cross-class sociability, and transnational interaction. As historian Allan Berube’s unfinished work on the Marine Cooks and Steward Union suggests, the waterfront has also offered radicals and queers with a diversity of racial and national identities a space to organize powerful heterogeneous labor unions.

Never an uncomplicated utopia, the waterfront could also be rough and violent. Many queers who explored the possibilities of waterfront spaces found themselves the targets of intolerant individuals, as well as the heteronormative state, the scandal-hungry media—and even, on one occasion, foreign espionage. As such, the urban waterfront has historically played host to the development of a range of queer communities, identities and resistant practices.

Brooklyn’s waterfront has yet to be explored as a site of queer history in any depth. We know a lot about the queer history of the docks, piers, and waterfronts of Manhattan and San Francisco. But Brooklyn’s waterfront has a unique history, one rife with queer moments. In the 1940s, for instance, it gained notoriety when military police discovered Nazi spies working undercover at a male brothel—an episode that Walter Winchell dubbed “the swastika swishery.” Queer artists—Hart Crane, David Wojnarowicz—spent time living near, and exploring, the Navy Yard area. Lesbians found lucrative work in the factories and shipyards there. Working class and non-normative people found alternative spaces in the entertainments of Coney Island. Today, LGBTQ communities line the edges of the borough’s shoreline. Stories of the Brooklyn waterfront are ripe for the telling. They are all the more pressing given Brooklyn’s current status as an epicenter of queer cultural production—and simultaneous gentrification. 


Proposals should outline the proposed topic/research that will inform the broadsheet and/or event, describe the project, and include a resume or portfolio for each artist or team member.

Proposals should be between 500 and 1000 words excluding resume/portfolios.

Preference will be given to proposals from interdisciplinary teams of between 2 and 4 people—comprised of artists, historians, writers, and makers of all sorts, either professionals or committed amateurs. Proposals that combine a broadsheet and an event will also be given preference. If you are interested in proposing a broadsheet, but do not have the capacity to design the visual element, please contact us to discuss options.

Proposals will be accepted for any of the following categories:
— two sided, full-color publications intended to function as posters on one side, and informational documents on the other. To be produced as 22x” x 30” newsprint poster/broadsheet. In any design: images of painting or sculpture, graphics, photography, multi-media, text-based, time-based, or other formats. Please note: broadsheet proposals may be combined if the curatorial committee deems it appropriate.

2. Events — walking tours, performances, lectures, talks, or workshops.

3.Artistic/Scholarly essays — Essays should address topics that illuminate the queer history of the Brooklyn waterfront and will be published on and/or Tumblr, made available at events, and, if appropriate, partially reproduced on broadsheets.

Projects might examine any range of topics, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • the “Barbary Coast” that 19th century gay writers like Hart Crane & W.H. Auden explored;
  • queer life in the military factories and shipyards, and the gendered implications of the Navy Yard’s economic opportunities;
  • gay, lesbian, and queer communities on the waterfront;
  • Coney Island communities, entertainments, and histories (Luna Park, the sideshow, the boardwalk)
  • cross-class queer interaction on the waterfront;
  • tattoo parlors;
  • gendered practices of same-sex communities of sailors, merchant marines, shipbuilders and other seafarers;
  • violence and danger on the waterfront;
  • state repression of outlaw waterfront communities queer representations of the Brooklyn waterfront in film, photography, and music;
  • queer protest and resistance practices on the waterfront;
  • sex scandals at waterfront brothels;
  • Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn;
  • the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union;
  • or any number of other topics.

Deadline: April 26nd, 2013

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History is a grassroots organization that transforms spaces into temporary installations dedicated to celebrating the rich, long, and largely unknown histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In an intellectual climate where even the Smithsonian can be forced to bow to the will of homophobia and remove the work of seminal queer artist David Wojnarowicz, we create alternative venues for our art and history. By utilizing temporarily spaces, the pop-up format turns economic reality to our favor and expands our reach beyond a single location, while our online presence serves as the connecting thread between physical installations.

To date, we have organized five shows, one in Brooklyn, two in Manhattan, one in Indiana, and one in Philadelphia, with a combined total attendance in the thousands. We have been featured in The New York Times, The Advocate, Time Out NY, New York Magazine, The Indiana Daily Student, and many other locations. Our workshop for educators, “Teaching Queer Histories: A Workshop for K-12 Educators,” (a collaborative effort with the Dia Art Foundation, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY, and the Hetrick Martin Institute) has reached over 100 participants, and spawned an ongoing queer educators reading group in New York City.

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  1. [...] Please spread the CFP widely and direct interested folks to [...]

  2. [...] Posted by davidbeasley on Thursday, April 4, 2013 · Leave a Comment  The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History is overjoyed by the stunning viral popularity of Cookie Woolner’s recent Tumblr post about the history of lesbian weddings in African American communities. The post featured a photo of a lesbian wedding that originally ran in Jet magazine in 1970, and to date it has been shared more than 4100 times, and also been picked up by places like The Root, Buzzfeed, Jet magazine themselves and many more! Cookie, a Doctoral Student in History & Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, is one of the many fantastic bloggers who make our tumblr an exciting destination for queer history on the internet – to join her or for more ways to get involved email us at! CALL FOR PROPOSALS – HomoEconomics [...]