commentary: survivors of 1980s AIDS crisis speak


via Gay Star News:

As the UK celebrates LGBT History Month, users of Reddit revealed what it was like to be living in what felt like a constant state of tragedy.

Real LGBTI people remember the confusion, the lack of information, the lack of support from the government because of the suffering from the virus known only at the time as GRID (gay-related immune deficiency).

‘I’m a 62-year-old gay man. I thankfully made it through the epidemic that started in the early 80s and went right through the mid-90’s. You ask what it was like? I don’t know if I can even begin to tell you how many ways AIDS has affected my life, even though I never caught the virus,’ one user said.


commentary: john d’emilio on AIDS history


via Out History:

Every year, without fail, when World AIDS Day comes, my own early memories of the epidemic surface:  sitting with my two housemates/friends over breakfast in the summer of ’81 and reading aNew York Times article about the first cases of a mysterious new illness; learning from a friend about the first meetings that were happening at Larry Kramer’s place in the Village to discuss what was going on; hearing that Winston, a friend who had seemed fine when I had seen him a couple of months earlier, was dying; going to a huge forum at, I believe, Hunter College, in Manhattan, the first public event I attended about AIDS; the weekly articles in the New York Native, which everyone I knew seemed to be discussing.  By 1983, the year I left New York City, it seemed impossible to be in a group of three or more gay men and not discuss AIDS.


scholarship: ‘a genealogy of the lesbian herstory archives’


via JCAS Update:


This paper traces the collection development of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, a community based repository founded in 1974. I argue that the collection grew organically as a reflection of a dialogue between an evolving cohort of volunteer archivists and a community of donors. Primarily focusing on the first five years, this paper pinpoints key early decisions made by volunteer archivists. Specifically, I examine the Archives’ early collecting priorities and the introduction of the special collections in 1978. These decisions, I argue, laid the foundation for the Lesbian Herstory Archives and continue to shape it today, forty years later.

submitted by community member Jill Snyder.

news: fenway health history honored


via Fenway Focus:

Fenway Health’s history was celebrated this week at a ceremony and open house at 7 Haviland Street. Approximately 50 people attended the dedication of a plaque commemorating Fenway’s time at 7 Haviland, which served as our main offices from 1991 to 2009. Attendees included current and former Fenway staff, Fenway Board members, patients, long-time supporters, and members of LGBT student groups from Berklee College of Music, which hosted the reception and now occupies the building.

You can read about Fenway’s history at their website. Fenway’s historical records are housed at Northeastern University’s Archives & Special Collections.


event: lgbtq history walking tour 9/14 (northampton, mass.)


Be in the know about Northampton queer history!

A fascinating walking tour that reveals the untold history of the Northampton, Massachusetts LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community will take place on Sunday, September 14th at 2:00 PM and you are invited! Offered by the Sexual Minorities Archives as a benefit for the non-profit Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation (SMEF), Inc., the 3-hour walking tour, Journey Through Lesbian Mecca, will include over 50 stops concentrated in a 3-mile area in and around downtown Northampton. Many of the locations on the tour were sites of organizations and businesses in the 1970s through the early 2000s that helped shape the LGBTQ community’s emergence in the area and the city to establish its national reputation as a welcoming place for LGBTQs. The tour will also cover sites as old in history as 1898, and spaces owned or operated by LGBTQ people today.
Research to develop the tour was conducted at the Sexual Minorities Archives, a national collection of LGBTQ literature, history, and art located in Northampton; and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College by Elizabeth Kent, M.A. Brandeis University, Smith College alumna, and member of the SMEF, Inc. Board of Directors. Kent and Marwa Atef Amer, Archival Assistant at the SMA and doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst will guide the tour.
In 1995, author Michael Lowenthal wrote, “Northampton is something of a lesbian Mecca, to which all dykes must make at least one pilgrimage during their lives.’” Today there are scarce few lesbians, gay men, trans people, bisexuals, and queers living in the U.S. who have never passed through Northampton or lived here at some point in time.
Even sites of lesbian graffiti once located in the city will be covered. The tour will swing through locations both in the city and on the Smith College campus.
Registration is limited to 30 people. The requested donation is $20 general and $10 for seniors ages 60+, students, and low-income individuals. We will meet by the Armory Street parking lot behind Thornes Marketplace, to the right of the entrance to the parking garage. Parking in the lot and on the streets is free on Sunday! Please arrive by 1:45 PM to check in. The tour will step off promptly at 2:00 PM.
To reserve your place or for more information, sign up as “Going” on the Facebook event page, email, or call 508-369-3711.
Tour-goers may pay in advance or on the day of the tour. To pay in advance, endorse a check for your donation to: SMEF, Inc. and mail it to: SMEF, Inc., P.O. Box 1023, Northampton, MA 01061-1023. SMEF, Inc. is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization; donations are tax-deductible.

submitted by member Adrienne Marie Naylor.

exhibit: that’s so gay: outing early america


via The Library Company of Philadelphia:

The exhibition That’s So Gay: Outing Early America will show that – like African Americana and women’s history – the abundance of resources documenting homosexuality at the Library Company merely needs to be revealed. To paraphrase the late gay activist Harry Hay (1912-2002), history knows more about gay people than it knows it knows.

How can we know whether someone was gay? There are many answers to that question, but ultimately we cannot know whether a person who lived in the past would be called lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender today.

That does not mean that we cannot study gay history. Individuals took part in same-sex relationships, wrote poems and novels celebrating such relationships, deviated from gender norms, and suffered for transgressive behavior in ways that are well-documented in the historical record. Gayness can also be considered a shared cultural experience based on an intrinsically gay outlook on the world.

Exhibition is both physical and online. Go explore!

Thanks to @lizcovart for the tip.

review: rebel souls: walt whitman and america’s first bohemians


via WBUR’s The ArtEry:

One could argue that bohemianism in America has its roots in Massachusetts. Clapp, a Nantucket native, born in 1814, whose family tree on both sides reached back several generations, is known as “The King of Bohemia.” After moving to Boston and working as a whale oil salesman, Clapp found his life’s calling of journalism after a neighbor asked for help putting together a death notice for the local paper. He worked for publications in Nantucket, New Bedford and Lynn, until he was sentenced to 60 days for libeling a justice of the peace. Clapp had already been well on his way to becoming a radical by then and in his 30s began giving lectures around New England, despite having, what Martin calls, a “shrill voice [that] was once described as sounding ‘like snapping glass under your heel.’”

…Martin gives us a different side of Whitman: A struggling poet trying to find his place both in the world and among a coterie of noisy fellow travelers. These fellow artists were some of the most interesting characters to haunt American letters and stages in the days just before, during and just after the war. Actor Edwin Booth, comic-writer Artemus Ward, author and drug imbiber Fitz Hugh Ludlow, and provocateur/actress Adah Menken are among them. Martin places them at Clapp’s raucous table at Pfaff’s just as fame is dawning for each, and then follows them through varied careers. Many would contribute to Clapp’s influential journal, The Saturday Press, and along the way they rub elbows with the likes of Mark Twain, President Lincoln and other artists, leaders and writers of the day.

Review by John Winters.