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Banksy, the most famous graffiti artist in the world, gave his many fans and followers something to talk about once again when he tagged the wall of a pub in Brighton, UK called the Prince Albert in 2004. The artist is known to bring political and social commentary to his world-renowned art, and this work was no different. The wall shows two London policemen kissing with their hands and arms clutching each other in a passionate embrace.
The pub owner of the Prince Albert was reportedly expected to try to auction off the piece — also known as “Gay Bobbies” — in the United States in 2011. The piece was expected to sell for over $1.6 million dollars, which speaks to the popularity and power of the image at a time when equal rights for gay people was a hotly debated issue in the U.S.
Banksy’s gay cops kissing is a powerful piece because it challenges popular ideas about masculinity. Police officers are generally thought of as macho, strong men of great social stature and authority, while gay men are stereotypically believed to be less masculine than straight men. Banksy plays off this idea by making the policemen in his artwork gay with each other.