Obviously, I do not mind that people would use my art to denounce inequalities and injustice. I definitely agree that all of the issues here have to be addressed. And the person who made this, Alex Cooper Webster, was nice enough to credit me and even link to this site when he posted it, and to tell people who commented to also do so if they wanted to share it. I definitely thank him for that.
But truth be told, I was irked. Retouching someone's art without asking them is traditionally a big no-no (but, again, that's the internet for you). But more than that, because I am represented in the artwork, I felt uneasy about the re-appropriation that seems to make me say things that I didn't say - even though I agree with them, but that's not the point. It's commendable to want to use art to spread a message, but there's a difference between using a Picasso as a meme and modifying the piece of a barely known artist. Picasso has a legacy and integrity to his work that will perdure anyway, whatever you do to his work. That's not my case. It is possible that more people have seen this modified version of my art than the actual artwork I actually made. And even if it's mostly ego, it stings a little bit.
I've been thinking of a way to talk about my feelings on the subject, but i didn't want to seem insensitive or unappreciative. I am genuinely happy that something I've made has inspired people. It is very flattering, and I'm not used to it ; after all, my other artworks are mostly pulp so they don't warrant this kind of response.
I don't want to say what this piece is really about to me, because once an artwork has been shared, people find their own meanings in it, as they should, and have. I just wanted to say that it is a little hard to make sense of your own depiction of yourself and the expression of your thoughts no longer belonging to you once you let others see them.
But, that's just being an artist for you.
I do have to thank all those who shared it (and credited me), Webster included. Thanks to this visibility, I've had the pleasure of receiving messages and chatting with people who have told me how much this drawing means to them and shared with me their experiences as minorities within the gay community and elsewhere. I honestly never thought that so many people would relate to what is, without a doubt, my most introspective piece. I also never thought that any of my art would lead to such intimate conversations with strangers.
Finally, I really want to stress out that I care about the issues that people have used my art to denounce. Hell, I've experienced a lot of them first hand. But as a general rule, the best way to go about modifying someone's art will always be to ask the artist first - especially if they're a smaller scale artist like myself, who are easy to contact and will often be glad that what they're doing is reaching people.
In the end, I'm glad that something I've made actually means something and matters to someone. That's what should matter the most to me.