Persistence: Continuing the Struggle for Suffrage and Equality, 1830-2020
Artist: Hannah Boehme
Chosen Suffrage Leader: Barbara Jean (B.J.) Metzger
This piece is dedicated in equal parts to 1980s LGBT activist Barbara Jean Metzger and the queer youth of today who carry her work forward. Barbara Jean, or BJ as she preferred to be called, was heavily involved in the Minnesota gay community from the 1970s through the late 90s. She helped form the DFL Lesbian and Gay Caucus of Minnesota, worked on multiple grassroots campaigns, and volunteered at an extraordinary number of LGBTQ publications and organizations throughout the Twin Cities. She supported many feminist organizations in the Cities as well, working with groups like Planned Parenthood on women’s rights issues. She was also passionate about environmental causes, and helped organize local recycling projects.
BJ was absolutely fearless and passionate in the face of uncertainty. She, along with her partner DJ Munro, was imperative to the progression of the rights of LGBTQ people in Minnesota.
I would like to acknowledge that although the Lesbian and Gay communities in the Twin Cities during the 1970s-1990s were incredibly important for many, they were also exclusionary. BJ herself supported the inclusion of trans and bisexual individuals in the community, but many did not. Additionally, transgender rights and the equal representation of people of color often took a back seat in the organizations of the time, leading to a predominantly limited (i.e.white) core group at the heart of the movement in Minnesota.
For this piece I wanted to show Barbara Jean Metzger as part of a whole, and how she has contributed to shaping the fight for LGBTQ rights as we know it today. I wanted to focus on the interconnectedness that is at the core of today’s protests and the modern fight for justice. It was important to me that I push LGBTQ people of color to the forefront, because that’s where they often are, fighting on the front lines and not getting the attention they deserve. I hope I am successful in honoring both them and the significant activist work of Barbara Jean Metzger.
As far as the artwork itself goes, I wanted to experiment with texture and brush strokes, while utilizing bright colors that reflect the palettes of various LGBTQ flags (including those of transgender and pansexual rights). I also enjoyed focusing on small details and repeating patterns because it adds a sense of movement and rhythm to the piece.
Hannah Boehme Biography
Hannah Boehme is a queer St. Paul-based illustrator and character designer. Her work focuses on colorful storytelling, social justice, positive queer relationships and small moments of warmth shared between people. She is an MCAD alumnus as well as a big history nerd, and she loves diving headfirst into research-based projects for inspiration. She can be found year round at local art and comic conventions in the Twin Cities.
B.J. (Barbara Jean) Metzger
B.J. Metzger was a well-known and respected LGBT and DFL activist in St. Paul, During her life, she received a number of awards for community service, especially in the LGBT community, and was honored for her leadership. Metzger held a B.A. in Political Science from Metro State University, M.A. in Theology from Wartburg Theological Seminary, M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota, and studied for her doctorate at Luther Seminary.
Metzger was very active, serving on the Yes for Human Rights Campaign in the 1990s, the St. Paul Police Priorities Task Force, St. Paul Human Rights Commission, St. Paul Tax Assessment Task Force, St. Paul Housing Task Force, Minnesota DFL Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Feminist (LGBTF) Caucus, as well as other positions within the party.