GEORGE TOWN, Aug 8 — The Stripes and Strokes exhibition was meant to celebrate Merdeka, the country and her flag, said photographer Mooreyameen Mohamad after the showcase was mired in controversy when the portraits of two lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists were removed.
The man behind the 28 portraits of Malaysian personalities posing with the Malaysian flag, said it was an “overreaction” that led to the portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik being removed yesterday.
“This exhibition is about Merdeka, it is about celebrating the country, its people and the flag,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
Expressing his disappointment, Mooreyameen said: “I know both Nisha and Pang. They are brave people in what they do and they deserve this recognition and to be part of the exhibition.”
He said the whole point of the exhibition was for people to learn about others in Malaysia.
The exhibition at Dewan Sri Pinang was officially opened in conjunction with George Town Festival (GTF) last Saturday.
Penang state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said earlier today he had ordered the portraits removed as it was not the state’s intention to encourage the open promotion of LGBT.
He stressed that this did not mean the state government does not respect the LGBT community.
Mooreyameen said he was open to discussion about the portraits and the accompanying captions for the pictures proclaiming both Pang and Nisha as LGBT activists.
“I’d rather that they come to me and challenge me rather than take down the portraits and hide it somewhere,” he said.
On suggestions by Penang state exco Chong Eng that both activists be portrayed as Malaysians and their other achievements instead of as LGBT activists, he said he was being honest in the captions for the duo.
“If we start changing words to please a group of people then they might as well tell me what to do,” he said.
The exhibition, now has 26 portraits of various Malaysians holding the Malaysian flag.
A check at the exhibition showed that controversial lawyer Siti Kasim’s portrait was still there but the caption for her portrait was changed. The word “LGBTQ” had been removed.
The original caption stated her as a defender of those in society that few cared about or acknowledged including Orang Asli and LGBTQ. ‘Q’ stands for ‘questioning’ or ‘queer’.
Other personalities featured in the exhibition include DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, celebrity chef Chef Wan, former nation athlete Jeffrey Ong and Datin Marina Mahathir.