About Gay Liberation Statue
Rendered in bronze, covered in white lacquer, two women sit together on a park bench in Greenwich Village. One of the women touches the thigh of her partner as they gaze into each other’s eyes. The two women are part of George Segal’s iconic sculpture Gay Liberation, but these powerful symbols were modeled on real people: Leslie Cohen and her wife Beth Suskin.
#George Segal #Gay Liberation Statue #LGBTQ+ Rights #Activism, #1970s History #Gay Rights #Lesbian History #Equality #NYC Public Art #Gay Art #Pride #StonewallNationalMonument #HistoricalSite #LGBTQHistory
In 1979, the tenth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, New York City announced that a commemorative statue by sculptor George Segal would be placed in Christopher Park. Due to controversy from Village residents and a small group of LGBTQ+ activists, Segal’s Gay Liberation (1980) sculpture was not installed until 1992.
Executed in bronze, with the artist’s signature white patina, the commission stipulated only that the figures “had to be loving and caring, and show the affection that is the hallmark of gay people…and it had to have equal representation of men and women.”
As fate would have it, Beth and I were the models for this iconic sculpture. I was so honored to be part of something that would have such an enormous impact on LGBTQ+ lives everywhere, not to mention that Beth and I would now be immortalized in a public sculpture permanently installed in New York City. The Gay Liberation sculpture signified everything that mattered to me—art, our love, and our struggle and desire for visibility to advance the world’s understanding and acceptance of homosexuality.
Video Credit: Ricardo Bruno, Director; Bianca Lanza, Producer 2010
Photo Credit: Jonathan Kuhn
"As the years go by, it will mean so much to us if those passing through the park know that the two women in bronze sitting on the park bench spent a lifetime together and were very much in love and that that possibility belongs to them, too."
- Leslie Cohen
“We consider it such an incredible honor to have sat for this monument and to have our story be connected to the larger story. All these years later, we still can’t believe it. When we’re in New York City, we’ll sit across from the sculpture and just watch people interact with it. Kids climb all over it. Grown men and women cry in front of it. It’s very moving.”
- Beth Suskin
Video Credit: Ricardo Bruno, Director; Bianca Lanza, Producer 2011