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About the Artist: Joe Phillips

Well-known gay African-American artist Joe Phillips was born in Atlanta, Georgia. At an early age of about 4 years old, his beloved mother quickly saw the artistic talent in her son who could already be found sketching images into the ground with a stick. His mother began to buy him sketchpads and pens to better record his work and his tools never left his side since. It was also in his youth that Joe Phillips began to draw comics and is now one of the best known and diverse artists in the comic and graphics arts industries. He has worked for major comic book titles including Superman, Wonder Woman, Superboy, Silver Surfer among others.

Joe's work has appeared on the Showtime T.V. Series, Queer as Folk and has been used in advertisement by such companies as Budweiser, TLA, Rodnick Vodka, and Delimex. His artwork has appeared on countless magazines. Joe Phillips, now a world-renown artist, director, costume designer, writer and animator, currently resides in San Diego and is honored to be the chosen artist commissioned by the International Imperial Court Council and City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez to make the "Gay Mt. Rushmore." This artwork is his gift to the GLBT History Mural Project and the neighborhoods of GLBT America.

International Court Council and CenterLink
GLBT History Mural Project
Executive Summary

The International Court Council, founded in 1965 to serve and advance the civil rights of the GLBT community with 66 chapters currently in Canada, the US, and Mexico, has partnered with CenterLink, the national association for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) community centers, with 200 centers across the US and the globe, to launch the GLBT History Mural Project (the "Project"). The Project began earlier this year when San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, Chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation Advisory Board, and Chair and CEO of the International Court Council, along with the International Court Council commissioned well-known gay African-American artist Joe Phillips to create a Mt. Rushmore-like image depicting the faces of GLBT heroes and civil rights trailblazers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Much exploration and discussion occurred in determining who would be displayed in the art. In the end, in order to represent the diversity of the GLBT community, the group selected Harvey Milk, the first gay man elected to public office only to be assassinated for his gay rights activism; Dr. Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington DC and leader of the earliest public gay protests of the US government for its anti-gay policies; Jose Julio Sarria, World War II veteran, the first openly gay candidate to run for public office, and the founder of the International Court System; Barbara Gittings, founder of the New York Daughters of Bilitis and leader to successfully persuade the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness; Bayard Rustin, early leader of nonviolent protests and, as an open gay man, chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights; and the Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church. The resulting artwork, available beginning in October 2012 during National GBLT History Month, is a gift to all GLBT persons.

The Project includes several components. Foremost, inspired by the beautiful and artistic murals depicting the culture, heritage, and history of neighborhoods that have appeared over the last decade, the International Court Council and CenterLink are making the artwork available for murals. For maximum effect, murals should be displayed on the external walls of buildings; however, the group requests only one external display per city, with GLBT community centers having priority in site selection. Indoor displays of the mural will not be limited.

Second, the Project includes an educational component. Centers and organizations displaying the mural are encouraged to provide information about the persons depicted in the artwork. Other activities, such as history lectures, films/ documentaries, GLBT book donations to libraries and schools, and other efforts to increase knowledge and appreciation of these notable GLBT heroes are strongly recommended. And third, since the mural represents the entire GLBT community, the International Court Council and CenterLInk envision diverse GLBT groups within a community coming together to finance and produce the mural and sponsor associated educational activities. It is hoped that such collaboration will strengthen pride within the community and beyond.

Any organization interested in exploring the mural further should contact Nicole Murray Ramirez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., CenterLink at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Chad (Hammer) O'Lynn, PhD, professor and author who is serving as Project Chair. Dr. O'Lynn will inventory mural locations, facilitate obtaining permissions to use the artwork, and answer further questions. He may be reached at (503)319-7277 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
If you would like to obtain the artwork for murals that will be put up in your community, please click here for the form and follow the instructions.