Katie Gilmartin

Artist and Author, founder of The Queer Ancestors Project. More at

Katie Gilmartin’s checkered past includes stints as a buoyant union organizer, bona fide sex researcher, and deeply engaged college professor. She attended Oberlin College and Yale Graduate School, then for over a decade taught cultural studies with an emphasis on the histories of gender and sexuality. On an urgent quest to relocate pleasure, Katie studied printmaking at San Francisco’s South of Market Cultural Center and became utterly smitten with the medium as art and as craft. She gradually surrendered her academic life to assume care of Chrysalis Print Studio, where she now teaches linocut and monotype classes. Along the way she founded City Art Cooperative Gallery, a thriving artspace on Valencia Street, and the Queer Ancestors Project, which is devoted to forging sturdy relationships between young LGBTQ people and their ancestors.

Gilmartin’s prints consistently interweave the visual and the verbal. The “Queer Words” series explores the multiple meanings of Queer slang – retooled epithets, secret codes, and camp – as a record of creative resistance. Her “Pulps” are faux pulp fiction covers: art for novels she’s invented that are set in 1950s San Francisco and celebrate the city’s history. In writing blurbs for these fabricated novels, Gilmartin engaged deeply with the aesthetics of pulp fiction and noir. Gradually, the text outgrew the prints and became an actual novel, her first: Blackmail, My Love, published by Cleis Press.

Blackmail, My Love is an illustrated noir mystery set in San Francisco in the Dark Ages of Queerdom: 1951. Josie O’Conner searches for her brother, a private dick who disappeared while investigating a blackmail ring targeting lesbians and gay men. Josie adopts Jimmy’s trousers and wingtips as well as his investigation, battling to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for the mounting number of Queer corpses. Along the way she rubs shoulders with a sultry chanteuse running a dyke tavern called Pandora’s Box; gets intimate with a red-headed madame operating a brothel from the Police Personnel Department; and conspires with the star of Finocchio’s, a dive so disreputable it's off limits to servicemen – so every man in uniform
pays a visit.

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