Margo Selski: Androgyne Dreams

What’s a mother to do when her 12-year-old son has a passion for long hair and lovely dresses? If she’s surrealist artist Margo Selski, she lets him pose as the subject of her fantastical paintings in the exhibition “Hitherto and Henceforth."

BY Brandon Voss

June 06 2011 5:50 PM ET

Margo Selski 02 x560 (provided) | ADVOCATE.COMHow is Theo treated in your hometown of Ellensburg, Wash., and how does he respond to harassment from his peers?
Theo understands that our small town is probably not as familiar with the kind of changes that have occurred in the larger world in notions of what is masculine and feminine. Theo knows that his androgyny will be misread in our town as femininity, being gay, or being weak. Theo understands that unless he wants to be constantly misunderstood by the limited world that he lives in, and unless he wants to take on the challenge of educating everyone around him about the changes in the larger world, he will have to edit himself. Theo recently cut his hair in an effort to go a little more incognito. However, young kids are wired to sniff out difference. Theo’s essence is just fundamentally different from other kids’. Even if he did not look androgynous, Theo will always be different.

I hear that his harassment came to a head recently when Theo got a black eye from a former friend. How is this situation being handled, and what can be done to keep Theo safe from bullies until he’s out of high school?
We have been dealing aggressively with school administrators and the parents of the child who attacked Theo. If need be, we will get help from law enforcement to keep Theo safe. The issue of keeping children safe from violence is larger than Theo’s own differences from his peers. Plenty of kids who are not androgynous are bullied. Schools and parents all need to be a whole lot more involved in preventing bullying from happening. Theo has also asked to take self-defense classes, partly so that he can feel confident that he can defend himself if he is ever in a situation where he needs to, but also partly because he loves kung fu movies. As I said, Theo might like beautiful things, but in some ways he’s very much a typical boy.

Tags: Art

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