Superheroes are amongst us, fighting for justice and inspiring hope every day.
This is the theme of the Hall of Justice Poster Series, an idea developed by artist and community worker John Caffery to shine a light on activists that have made a difference in LGBTQ+ communities around the world. The name is inspired by the superhero headquarters of the DC Comics all-star team, the Justice League.
“I was looking at a way to merge art and activism and to teach young people about the successes of the community in an engaging way,” said Caffery. “The goal with this project was to give youth a chance to lead and drive an important message to the whole community.”
To do this, Caffery assembled a 13-person youth advisory committee to plan and create the posters, which feature LGBTQ+ activists ranging in age from 38 to 80, and spanning from Toronto to South Africa. The committee’s final list included research scientist Alex Abramovich, writer Ivan Coyote, community organizer and outreach worker Monica Forrester, author and scholar bell hooks, event organizer and performer LeZlie Lee Kam, justice activist Miss Major, gay liberation and anti-apartheid activist Simon Nkoli, gay and trans liberation activist Sylvia Rivera, actor George Takei, artist and educator Syrus Marcus Ware and artist David Wojnarowicz.
“Being able to connect with various well-known activists was very exciting,” said Caffery. “I didn’t expect people would get so excited about the posters and take them all over the world. People have reached out from the Ivory Coast, Cape Town, Black Lives Matter groups, HIV/AIDS groups. I have been fighting to keep up with the demand.”
Here’s a photo of Moonga Chiimba and I standing with the HALL OF JUSTICE exhibition at @RainbowHealthOn#RHOConference We loved sharing the posters with health providers across the province of #Ontario#HallofJustice#HEAT4Justice@soy_toronto@shctoronto@EnvironmentYorkpic.twitter.com/QrSdSwWNIH
— John Caffery (@John_Caffery) April 10, 2018
That is a fight Caffery is winning, as he comes off yet another successful exhibition at the Rainbow Health Ontario conference in Sudbury. The series has also been featured at York University, George Brown College, Glad Day Bookshop, as well as Toronto shelters, schools, libraries and community centres.
The Community One General Rainbow Grants program was designed to fund small-scale projects such as this, that carry a significant positive impact on LGBTTIQQ2S communities in the GTA. By delivering grants up to $1,500, it provides seed money to get projects off the ground and realized to their full potential.
“[The General Rainbow Grant] was extremely helpful to start the campaign, get the first print runs and fund youth and activist honoraria,” said Caffery. “The grant allowed me to scale the project up to the proper size, to not have to rush or cut any corners.”
And scale it up he did. One of many successes in the project was working out an agreement with marketing company SapientRazorfish and the Toronto District School Board to print and distribute 5,500 posters for schools across the city.
Just as a hero’s work is never done, Caffery is still securing support to print more posters and pay youth and activist speakers for events. Visit his website hallofjusticeposters.com to see the whole poster series and dates/locations of upcoming exhibitions.