Filipino artist creates SoCal mural promoting gender identities

PALM SPRINGS, CA — A wall saturated with colors.

A tapestry of symbolisms.

Drawing inspiration from the leaders of the past — as the fight for respect and equality continues.

This is the new mural, titled Proud, at the The Transgender Health and Wellness Center in Cathedral City, California.

Its creator, Filipino American artist Marconi Calindas-Cafege, said he was inspired by two main themes for the mural, the leader of the Stonewall Riot in New York in 1969 — and one of nature’s symbols of transformation.

“If you look at the mural, there’s a portrait of Marsha P. Johnson, and the butterfly. One thing that the center asked me to create is to paint a huge butterfly so the kids and visitors here can take a photo.

The Transgender Health and Wellness Center provides services to the transgender, intersex and gender-diverse community, linking individuals to professionals seeking medical and mental health care, legal services, housing, employment and other resources.

Executive director Thomi Clinton said their work could be highly political — but ultimately, it all boils down to

“Saving people, allowing people to live authentically and reach their highest potential is really what life is about… when we attack someone if they are LGBT, that doesn’t stop there, they may start attacking people who they think are LGBT,” said Clinton.

The 3-dimensional mural, which Calindas-Cafege painted over the course of two weeks, was unveiled to the public just days before the alleged murder of a transgender woman in Dallas, and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression or SOGIE equality bill dying in the Senate.

Marconi said artists now need to be true and brave.

“Create and create. Don’t think of anything else — if they wanna create political themes, decorative art, just be themselves..and everything will connect and follow.”

Even here in Palm Springs, the battle between equality and conservative values is still at a fever pitch, but what is evident is still a conduit for change and conversation.

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