Acting against discrimination
Director of Visual Studies Doctoral Program has history in LGBTQ activism
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013 21:10
Katz’s work in developing programming for lectures and exhibitions has brought international recognition to what he sees as the problem with some museums. It has been a continuous fight, but he believes society is witnessing a “whirlwind” of social change, he said.
“The last few years have been stunning,” Katz said.
Katz believes there have been two factors that have aided social and cultural change: Everyone now has a connection with someone who identifies as LGBTQ and everyone recognizes that this movement is the last in a line of political and social change.
Regardless of how progressive some places are, other places haven’t changed or have changed very little since the 1950s, according to Katz.
“Freedom in this country is not uniform,” Katz said.
He believes it takes courageous people taking a stance and getting stepped on continuously before change is possible.
Katz knows what it’s like to be stepped on.
In 1986, Katz and a group of protestors stood on the steps of the Supreme Court protesting a ruling that upheld the criminalization of homosexuality. Katz felt the decision in the case, Bowers v. Hardwick, set LGBTQ rights back 15 years.
He and his group of protestors were arrested and detained by a policeman who was being rough with Katz and his crew. But it was the sight of a 60-year-old woman who was part of the protest that changed the man’s outlook. When the cop asked the women if she’d been arrested before, she said ‘yes’ and recited the dates of the African American, Women’s Rights and Latino Civil Rights movements. She had been a part of every one of those protests since the 1960s.
“[The cop] got it,” Katz said, “He didn’t get it before, but [in that moment], he got it.”
Katz has turned his passion into his profession to make sure others “get it,” too.