Portrait show takes touching look at gay culture

Wed Jul 1, 2009 11:39am EDT
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By Julie Mollins

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Purple walls highlight the poignant atmosphere of a new exhibit at Britain's National Portrait Gallery timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York.

"Gay Icons", on show until October 18, features 60 portrait photographs selected by 10 gay people who were asked to choose icons they felt had been inspirational regardless of their sexual orientation.

"The show reminds us of the struggle that gay people have," said Bernard Horrocks, copyright officer at the gallery whose idea inspired the exhibition.

"There's prejudice still out there, so if it makes people re-address their prejudices that's a good thing."

Among musician Elton John's selection is a black and white picture of onetime Beatle John Lennon, who was shot dead in 1980 in New York.

The two musicians shared a U.S. hit single with the 1974 duet "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night."

"I had a bet with John that the track would be a number one hit," John's descriptive on the wall beside the picture states.

"Losing the bet, he agreed to perform on stage with me at Madison Square Garden, New York ... that happened to be the last live concert Lennon would ever play and it became a defining moment for me."   Continued...

<p>Gis&egrave;le Freund's portrait of Virginia Woolf, 1939, is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Gis&egrave;le Freund/National Portrait Gallery/Handout</p>