Hugh Ryan is a writer, historian, and curator, who is currently writing on a queer history of the Brooklyn waterfront, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019. He is also developing an accompanying exhibition that will be mounted at the Brooklyn Historical Society. He is the Founding Director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Review of Books, Tin House, Out, Vice, Hazlitt, and many other publications.
Ryan is the recipient of the 2016 Martin Duberman Fellowship at the New York Public Library and a 2017 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction. He sits on the board of advisors for QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking and is a Project Advisor for the Museum of Transgender Hirstory. He holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Bennington College.
Brooklyn’s unique queer history stretches back to before the word “homosexual” had even been coined, yet to date, there has been no book, movie, or exhibition focusing on the stories of queer Brooklynites. Hugh Ryan’s When Brooklyn Was Queer, traces the genesis of queer life in Brooklyn back to waterfront neighborhoods in the mid-1800s (in particular, downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island). Along the way, he explores the stories of poets, sailors, undercover-cops-dressed-as-sailors, brothels, sideshows, communes, rough trade, Nazi spies, trans men, dancers, machinists, path breakers, mythmakers, and many more
Ryan’s research shows that queer life flourished in places where queer people were able to find employment; that the Brooklyn queer community was separated by race, gender, class, and ethnicity from its very inception; and that the large social networks that queer people developed in Brooklyn prior to World War II were systematically erased by conservative forces dominant in the 1950s and ’60s.
image: Stevedores Bathing Under Brooklyn Bridge – Edward Casey, 1939
In Process @ The Watermill Center invites the community to engage with our Artists-in-Residence on Saturday afternoons through open rehearsals, workshops, studio visits, lectures or artist talks.
Watermill’s mission is to provide artists and thinkers the opportunity to focus on the development of their work and practice. Artists-in-Residence have gone on to perform at venues and festivals including the New Museum, Roulette, PS122, American Realness, Clocktower Gallery, Performa, Vienna’s Donaufestival, Kampnagel in Hamburg, CPR – Center for Performance Research, and the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
March 3, 2018