Glenn Tramantano

Surrender Dorothy
Graphite on paper
19 x 25.5”
2010
Works in Exhibition:

Surrender Dorothy
Graphite on paper
19 x 25.5”
2010
(Close-up and gallery view; left)

The Pink Brigade (in violation of directive 1332.14)
Graphite, colored pencil and glitter on paper
19 x 25.5”
2010
(Gallery view; right)

Artist's Statement

In the early 1980s the Naval Investigative Service was attempting to root out homosexual personnel from the US military.  Through their investigation, agents became aware of the term “friend of Dorothy,” a common code used in the second half of the 20th century to refer to gay men.  It is thought that the term originated with the famous character of Dorothy Gale, played by Judy Garland, in The Wizard of Oz.  Not knowing the history behind the phrase, the N.I.S agents were convinced that a real woman named Dorothy existed who was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military men.  In an attempt to expose these men, they launched a search for Dorothy. 

This series of drawings, titled “Friends of Dorothy,” reimagines the world of Oz through the lens of that historical moment of confusion.  What if, in fact, Dorothy Gale was the leader of an underground group of gay characters and military men?  What if the Cowardly Lion enjoyed dressing in drag, and the Tin Man and Scarecrow were lovers?  What if the house originally tossed up into a twister was now the safe haven for these men?   And what if the N.I.S. and the Wicked Witch of the West were working together to bring Dorothy to justice? 

These drawings play within the codes of gay iconography and lexicon.  They question historical meaning, and bleed fact into fiction.  And they are created in the context of a current political debate that more often than not fails to learn from the mistakes of the past. 

- Glenn Tramantano