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Rainbow LaGuardia asks what it means to be queer in an educational setting. In a previous era, an exhibition like this was unthinkable. During McCarthyism in the 1950s, a period of political and cultural repression, an untold number of professors in universities and colleges lost their jobs because of their sexuality. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association classified “homosexuality” as a mental illness. In 1992, during the “culture wars,” District 24 in Queens rejected the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum by the New York City Board of Education because of references to families headed by same-sex couples. Struggles continue, as these individuals observe, but they all feel comfortable enough in 2020 to reflect about their gender identities and sexual orientation in a public forum. In doing so, they enrich the learning environment at LaGuardia Community College and beyond, and remind us that only when we are our authentic selves can we reach our full potential.

  • Praise for Rainbow LaGuardia:
  • The Gay & Lesbian Review
  • The Gotham Center Blog
  • Exhibition Team:
  • Thierry Gourjon, Co-Curator, Associate Professor, Photography
  • Stephen Petrus, Co-Curator, Historian, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Brandon Calva, Videographer, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Mike Schuwerk, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Art Director
  • Oleg Kleban, Information Systems Associate, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Isadora Martinez, Front-End Developer, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives

  • LaGuardia and Wagner Archives Staff:
  • Soraya Ciego-Lemur, Deputy Director
  • Douglas Di Carlo, Archivist
  • Stephen Weinstein, Assistant to the Director
  • Molly Rosner, Assistant Director of Education Programs
  • Tara Jean Hickman, Adjunct Professor, Social Sciences/Educational Associate
  • David Mezick, Archivist
  • Debra Grech, Assistant Archivist
  • Amanda Garfunkel, Administrative Coordinator
  • Special Thanks:
  • Kenneth Adams, President, LaGuardia Community College
  • Paul Arcario, Provost, LaGuardia Community College
  • Nireata Seals, Vice President of Student Affairs and Associate Provost, LaGuardia Community College
  • Richard K. Lieberman, Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the New York City Council, in particular, Speaker Corey Johnson and Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm.

All the photographers are current or former LaGuardia Community College students, trained by Professor Thierry Gourjon. These photographs will become part of the LGBTQ Collection at LaGuardia and Wagner Archives. Stephen Petrus wrote the exhibition text and conducted the oral histories, with the exception of the Paul Arcario interview, which was done by Queens College student Sergio Albarracin. Arianna Martinez wrote her own profile. The oral histories, too, will become part of the LGBTQ Collection at the Archives.

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