things that matter

21 Facts You Didn’t Know About Queer, Feminist Icon Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a visionary Mexican artist born on July 6th, 1907 and passed on July 13, 1954. She lived a short, but quite eventful, 47 years of life. While Kahlo lived in Paris, New York, and San Francisco, Kahlo is known for being fiercely proud of her Mexican heritage, using dress to evoke political meaning.

To this day, her work inspires and resonates still with the queer, female and non-gender-conforming experiences.

1. Frida Kahlo is the OG Selfie Queen.

CREDIT: @jollenelevid / Twitter

Most people, when they think of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, think of her self portraits. During her life, her art was eclipsed by her husband’s, Diego Rivera. Only until after she passed and the Feminist Revolution erupted in the 1970’s did the public truly appreciate her refusal to be defined by anyone else, and her whole-hearted self acceptance, as depicted in her portraits.

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

2. Most of Kahlo’s paintings are not of herself.

CREDIT: @artfridakahlo / Twitter

Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self portraits and the other 88 are not. She actually painted mostly still-life images of fruit and flowers alongside political symbols.

What do you think of the porcelain blonde girl in the white dress peering over the bed of tropical fruit?

3. Kahlo was in a terrible bus accident when she was 18 years old.

CREDIT: @BestOfMx / Twitter

One September morning, Frida and her boyfriend boarded a bus that would collide with a train. Her boyfriend remembers the bus as “bursting into a thousand pieces.” A handrail ripped through Kahlo’s torso.

Later, he recounted, “Something strange had happened. Frida was totally nude. The collision had unfastened her clothes. Someone in the bus, probably a house painter, had been carrying a packet of powdered gold. This package broke, and the gold fell all over the bleeding body of Frida. When people saw her, they cried, ‘La bailarina, la bailarina!’ With the gold on her red, bloody body, they thought she was a dancer.”

The column here represents her fragile spine, which would cause chronic pain for the rest of her life.

4. While bedridden, Kahlo painted her first paintings.

CREDIT: @toadstool_house / Twitter
Kahlo broke her spinal column, collar bone, ribs, pelvis, fractured her right leg in 11 places, dislocated her shoulder and even lost her fertility. She would live in pain for the rest of her life, but her mother’s invention to arrange a special easel near her bed eased her pain.

5. Kahlo dreamed of becoming a doctor, but instead endured more than 30 surgeries in her lifetime.

CREDIT: @arthistoryfeed / Twitter

Before the accident, she suffered polio as a child and was pursuing medicine. The injuries from the accident forced her instead into grief over what was lost, especially her ability to bear children.

The accident irreparably damaged her uterus, causing several devastating miscarriages. Above is a self portrait titled Henry Ford Hospital, that depicts what she lost.

6. Kahlo preferred long skirts to cover her leg.

CREDIT: @fequalsHQ / Twitter

“I must have full skirts and long, now that my sick leg is so ugly.”

Her leg was left severely deformed from the polio, and modern doctors now think she may have also had spina bifida.

7. Her right leg was amputated at the knee towards the end of her life.

CREDIT: @artfridakahlo / Twitter

You can see how her right foot on the left is withered from the polio. Eventually it developed gangrene. The right is an image Frida drew in her diary. She tried to make light by writing, “Feet, why do I want you if I have wings to fly?”

8. Frida Kahlo’s father was German.

CREDIT: @toadstool_house / Twitter

Her father suffered a similar fate, moving to Mexico after epilepsy developed by an accident ended his university studies. Her mother was half Spanish and half indigenous Oaxacana.

9. Frida was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, but dropped the ‘e’.

CREDIT: @SalvadorSalort / Twitter

Frieda comes from the German word “friede”, which means peace. Ironically, she dropped the ‘e’ in 1935 to avoid being associated with Germany during Hitler’s rule. 

10. Kahlo met her husband and famous muralist, Diego Rivera, in the Mexican Communist Party.

CREDIT: lupitovi / Pinterest

They met at a party, and she asked him to judge her work. He said that her paintings had “an unusual energy of expression, precise delineation of character, and true severity.”

Their relationship was volatile. He was 20 years older than her and immediately left his then second-wife to marry Frida Kahlo. Kahlo and Rivera divorced and remarried a year later. They both had extramarital affairs, Rivera having one with Frida’s sister.

11. Frida Kahlo was queer AF.

CREDIT: @GiuseppeTurrisi / Twitter

In all the ways, from her gender expression to her sexuality. She once said, “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Many historians now believe that Diego’s self-professed pride in being a womanizer is what gave her so much untold turmoil and pain.

But, soon things changed when she moved to Paris…

12. Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker fell madly in love in Paris 1939.

CREDIT: “Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker – a Fabulous Romance” Digital Image. MusArtBoutique. 6 July 2018.

Josephine Baker was working for the French Military Intelligence agency at the time, working against Hitler. Baker was also a singer, and both of them became famous in town for being openly bisexual.

13. Rare photos have surfaced showing Kahlo dressed in suits in family photos.

CREDIT: “Frida 2.” Digital Image. Bustle. 6 July 2018.

This picture was taken when she was 17 years old, just one year before the bus accident that would change everything. Frida Kahlo truly pushed the boundaries, and unapologetically so.

14. She even painted a self portrait of herself in a suit.

CREDIT: “Frida 5.” Digital Image. Bustle. 6 July 2018.

Her hair was in pieces all around her on the ground, and she held a pair of scissors to her groin. Historians always assumed it was a threat to Diego Rivera for his infidelity or some kind of message of self-hate.

15. Kahlo redefined Mexican mythology in her work.

CREDIT: @ransomcenter / Twitter

Monkeys are usually symbols of lust in Mexican and Colombian mythology, but Kahlo always depicts them as tender, protective symbols.

Perhaps a message to all of us recovering Catholics that there’s nothing threatening or inherently wrong about lust.

16. Kahlo’s “The Frame” was the first piece of Mexican art purchased by the Louvre.

CREDIT: @neongreece / Twitter

Her work, today, also garners more money than any other female artist. While she was alive, Pablo Picasso took an interest in her work, alongside other surrealists, to which she responded:

They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

17. Kahlo had several exotic pets…like monkey exotic.

CREDIT: @ReadingInHeels / Twitter

Pictured above is her fawn, Granizo. She also had a few Mexican hairless Xoloitzcuintli (that hairless dog breed that was coveted by the Aztecs), a pair of spider monkeys named Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal, an Amazon parrot called Bonito and an eagle named Gertrudis Caca Blanca.

18. Kahlo arrived to her first art show in an ambulance.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Lisa Wall Rogers. 6 July 2018.

During her last year of life, she scored her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Against doctor’s orders, Kahlo asked the ambulance to take her from the hospital to her exhibit, and she pulled up as if in a limousine.

19. At one point, Kahlo was force fed to keep her alive.

CREDIT: @Hamiltoniana / Twitter

Her many surgeries and illnesses brought a lack of appetite. Her doctor ordered that she be sent to bed rest and be fed a fattening purée of food every two hours.

The ladder depicted here is what she would use to paint from her bed, only to be replaced by a disgusting array of animal products.

On the back of the painting, she wrote: “Not the least hope remains to me…Everything move in time with what the belly contains.”

20. Kahlo has become a feminist icon.

CREDIT: @HarvardLibrary / Twitter

While during her life, she was known as the wife of Master Mural Painter Diego Rivera with a side hobby, she lived and painted the fullest expression of her self. Her paintings give deeply personal insight into the female experience, especially that of a disabled, queer experience during a time it was anything but OK to be that.

I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.

21. Frida was born and died in the same house, Casa Azul.

CREDIT: @QatarandYonder / Twitter

Her home has since been made into el Museo de Frida Kahlo, in Mexico City. You can go visit the home that housed so much recovery, inspiration, and fearlessness.


To show your love for Frida Kahlo, check out the merchandise we have featuring some of her famous quotes. Shop here. 

Felony Hate Crime Charges Have Been Filed Against The Man Who Harassed A Woman For Wearing A Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

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Felony Hate Crime Charges Have Been Filed Against The Man Who Harassed A Woman For Wearing A Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

All Mia Irizarry wanted to do was celebrate her 24th birthday. What she got instead was a horrific moment that she will most likely never forget. On June 14, Irizarry rented out a pavilion at a public park in Chicago to host a party for her birthday. While she was setting up, an older man, identified as Timothy Trybus, approached her angrily because of her Puerto Rico flag shirt.

Timothy Trybus confronted Mia Irizarry about wearing her Puerto Rico flag shirt while being in America.

Irizarry recorded the entire confrontation, which was 30-minutes long, and posted it on Facebook. The incident happened last month but police have finally arrested Trybus over the incident and has been charged with two felony hate crimes. These filed hate crime charges will enhace the misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct he was originally charged with.

The man, who was reportedly intoxicated, asked if Irizarry was an American citizen.

Posted by Mia Irizarry on Thursday, June 14, 2018

“Are you a citizen? Then you should not be wearing that,” the man said. “I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that s—?”

“First of all, the United States owns Puerto Rico,” Irizarry responded.

“You’re not going to change us,” the man said. “The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”

While there was a male police officer on the scene, he did not help Irizarry despite her pleas for assistance and has resigned.

CREDIT: Facebook/m.i.a.paperplanes

“I do not feel comfortable with him here; is there anything you can do?” Irizarry asks the police officer.

The officer has been identified as Patrick Connor, a 12-year veteran of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. He has resigned from the department after severe backlash from his actions in the video.

A female police officer was the only one that told the man he had to stop harassing Irizarry.

CREDIT: Facebook/m.i.a.paperplanes

While more officers were on the scene later, it wasn’t until a female officer arrived that she was able to control the man.

Mitú has reached out to Irizarry and will update this story when she responds.


READ: New York Police Are Looking For A Man Who Wore A ‘MAGA’ Hat While Attacking A Latino Subway Rider 

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