This Photographer Spotlights the Sexy Agency of His Community
Robert Andy Coombs
The Touching History: Stonewall 50 (October 12, 2019 - March 19, 2020) exhibition at the Palm Springs Museum of Art featured two large photographs (below) by disabled queer artist and activist Robert Andy Coombs.
"Touching History commemorates the 50th anniversary of New York's Stonewall riots, a landmark uprising against police harassment and social injustice that sparked the gay liberation movement and the modern struggle for LGBTQ civil rights," the museum website said. "Bringing together an intergenerational group of contemporary artists working in photography and collage, this exhibition explores queer kinship, care, and community through the immediacy and intimacy of touch."
Self-described as "ballsy, charming, devastatingly handsome, homosexual, yooper, disabled, artist, activist," Robert Andy Coombs was working towards his Masters in Fine Art Photography at Yale University. Though his Instagram account was recently deleted for violating "Community Guidelines," there's no better way to sum up the life experience that launched Coombs artistic career, than to simply quote his April 24, 2019 Instagram post:
"Holy shit! Today marks 10 years since I broke my neck training a double backflip on a trampoline! I went from a crazy athletic dude to a crazy disabled dude! One thing that remains the same is my sexiness! I've come so far, re-learning how to breathe, swallow, and live on my own... Now I am getting my MFA in photography @yale !!! Never in 1 million years did I think I would be where I'm at today, but I'm glad to be here, and I am glad to have my amazing family and friends with me every roll of the way! Here's to the next 10!"
Coombs was grateful to be a part of the historic exhibition. "I am just glad that I can get the topic of disability and sexuality out to the masses, and more specifically, to have the opportunity to show that there are disabled queers out here. We need to be recognized and included within the queer community, because current queer spaces are inaccessible and unwelcoming to us!"
About the inclusion of Coombs work, "Touching History: Stonewall 50" curator David Evans Franz said, "Robert's work is important within the exhibition both for its unabashed commitment to producing sex-positive imagery of disabled people, as well as the collaborative process in which they are produced."
Presented here are 17 photographs from Robert Andy Coombs "Crip Fag" series, which he said "will be going on for the rest of my life, in various iterations."