Blog / 2022 / Proud of My Stripes

February 3, 2022

[video transcript]

The first time I opened up about this particular story was last summer, in a talk about my queer art practice for the Princeton Public Library, but I share a lot about the benefits of queerness on my blog. If you’re interested, I address why I still use the pronoun “she” here, and, for more about the rainbow heart that I removed from the coat to make space for the tiger, check out this video.

There are prints and pretty things with this ferociously joyful image here in my print shop.

intersex inclusive progress pride flag tiger with pansexual flag heart, meme illustration by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Proud of My Stripes
acrylic on unmounted canvas
14 x 12 inches

It’s been almost thirty years now, but I still remember the moment clearly. From the outside, it didn’t look like much of anything was going on. I was just a twelve year old kid who’d closed the door to her room, and I was sitting on my bed, thinking. The drama of the moment was happening inside my head.

It was the first time I remember realizing that I wasn’t really a girl. Not that I felt like a boy either, but I definitely wasn’t a girl. At that point I hadn’t yet had my first period and my body wasn’t developing at the same rate as my friends’ but I was already being sexualized by the people around me. The patriarchy was making it very clear that I was supposed to see myself as a girl, but it didn’t make sense to me.

On the one hand, this realization was a bit depressing, because I was having an identity projected onto me and I didn’t feel like I had a choice about it. I remember thinking that, if someone had entered the room right then, I’d automatically be a girl again. I’d stop being able to be the human that I knew I was.

So there was definitely disappointment in my discovery, but there was also a distinct feeling of freedom. Because I finally knew who I was at my core.

This same moment has played out in a prolonged way over the last few years as I have had the privilege to exist in the special kind of privacy that a pandemic can provide. I’ve had so much more time by myself or alone with my partner, and in that profoundly comfortable space I’ve been able to be more truly me.

It hasn’t always been easy—facing my own brain, minus the distractions of the Before Times, has been downright scary at times. But there’s also a power in lingering in an intimate space. It’s as if a new reserve has built up inside me, while I’ve been protected from all the projections society likes to foist on me.

Now, even when I’m in public, I feel more myself than ever before.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!


August 29, 2022

You can now purchase a special edition version of this image on a t-shirt released by Pride Socks! Go here for more information.


April 27, 2023

This tiger is featured in the documentary Queerying Nature, which is maybe the project I’m most proud of in all my career and which I talk about at length in this post.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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