Venezuelan artist Daniel Arzola’s artwork is a form of activism he calls “artivism,” and he counts celebrities like Madonna as fans of his work. In 2013 he created graphics for a campaign called “No Soy Tu Chiste” (“I Am Not Your Joke”), bringing awareness to his home country’s lack of LGBT rights.
For this year’s Logo Trailblazer Honors Arzola created works depicting queer figures from history. Scroll through below to see them brought to life through his beautiful illustrations.
Plato and Sappho
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote poems dedicated to his male lovers. While romantic relationships between men were accepted across Greece, women taking other women as lovers was not. That didn’t stop Sapphos who was from the island of Lesbos, and wrote of same-sex desire between women. She is the reason we use the term “lesbian” today.
Hadrian and AntinousDaniel Arzola/Logo
The love affair between Roman emperor Hadrian and Antinous, someone 30 years his junior, was accepted and celebrated by Roman society. After Antinous drowned, Hadrian ordered that Antinous be worshipped as a god and erected statues of him throughout the empire.
Joan of ArcDavid Arzola/Logo
The religious icon challenged the gender norms of her time by going against church law and choosing to present as masculine. She was seen as an equal to male soldiers and was never linked romantically to a man during her lifetime.
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo
Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo both had affairs with men and there is still a theory today that the Mona Lisa is based on the face of da Vinci’s male assistant.
The secret queer history of English royaltyDaniel Arzola/Logo
Richard I, Edward II, King James I all had love affairs with men. Edward II had several male lovers, including his favorite who was publicly executed.
Walt Whitman and Albert Cashier
Before Walt Whitman was a famous poet he was a Civil War nurse who wrote about his attraction to male soldiers. Meanwhile, Albert Cashier was a Civil War soldier who was born a woman in Ireland but lived as a man when he arrived in America.
We’wha, the Two-Spirit Native American
We’wha was a Native American from the Zuni tribe in New Mexico who was born male but was regarded as a cisgender woman her entire adult life. We’wha was recognized by her tribe as Two-Spirit and was a celebrated artist who in 1886 was invited to Washington, D.C. to display her indigenous art and meet President Cleveland.
Gladys Bentley and James BaldwinDavid Arzola
Gladys Bentley was an openly gay blues singer in the 1920s who dressed in male clothing. She ended up marrying a man as a result of the oppression from the McCarthy era. While the Harlem-born writer James Baldwin was the rare out author at that time whose novels went on to become queer literature classics.
One of the most famous artists of the 20th century, Frida Kahlo was married to Diego Riviera but took both male and female lovers—including singer Josephine Baker.
The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis
The Mattachine Society was formed in 1955 and was one of the first gay organizations in the country while the Daughters of Bilitis—also formed in 1955, and based in San Francisco—sought to end discrimination against lesbians. Both groups paved the way for the Stonewall riots and the modern gay rights movement.
To hear Arzola talk about his work, head to Logo’s Facebook page, starting at noon on Friday, for an interview live from the Logo Trailblazer Honors red carpet.
Logo Trailblazer Honors airs Friday, June 23 at 9/8c on Logo.