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Breaking the Silence

In early 1987, thousands of graphic posters shot up on the walls of New York city. The posters had a black background in which a pink triangle floated above blocky white type, shouting the slogan, ‘Silence=Death’. The appearance of these hand-pasted bills created intrigue, dialogue and questions about their subject matter. To the casual viewer their stylised design seemed to match a familiar vernacular of 1980s advertising, but for queers they contained a forboding statement and an esoteric clue – the pink triangle.

The pink triangle’s history began in 1930’s Germany, when the Third Reich used it as a badge of shame to mark homosexuals in Nazi death camps. Although rooted in death and oppression, it was reclaimed by the post-war generation of gay men and women, who adopted it as a defiant motif of queer liberation.

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