Issue 8 – How We Share Our Stories – May 8, 2020
In Issue 8, we examine the powerful ways queer and trans folks honor stories and histories of our own. As dominant narratives have spawned harmful stereotypes and oppressive conditions for us, our communities continue to provide powerful anecdotes against them—from art, storytelling, archive creation, and community organizing. We share recommendations that offer complex stories of identity reclamation and community advocacy. Ranging from novels, memoirs, and television to online community, games, and archives, queer folks always find a way to stand with one another while sharing stories and histories.
Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times (Book)
If you’re missing the ability to visit archives right now, then why not pick up Rebecka Taves Sheffield’s new book that looks at the history of four lesbian and gay archives: the ArQuives in Toronto, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn. Get caught up on how these organizations came into existence, who has supported them, and how they have survived for more than forty years.
The chapter on ONE details the convergence and divergence of the collections now housed at 909 West Adams, following Jim Kepner and his growing collection as well as the collections related to the ONE Institute, Don Slater, Dorr Legg, and the Homosexual Information Center.
– Alexis Bard Johnson, Curator at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries
A Secret Love (Documentary)
A Secret Love is a new Netflix documentary about the decades-long closeted relationship between Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel. Terry Donahue was one of the players in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the movie A League of Their Own. It is a must watch documentary reminding us, as Terry says, “Love is love.”
There are so many stories of secret love at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries; one of my favorite collections is from Esther Herbert and Marvel Boyle; you can browse their photographs on the USC Digital Library.
– Jennifer C. Gregg, Executive Director
Juliet Takes a Breath (Novel)
I have two words for you: Pussy Power! This is title of the (sadly fictional) book that inspires fabulous, queer Latinx Juliet Milagros Palante to come out to her Bronx family, right before heading to Oregon to intern with the book’s white lesbian, feminist author. What follows is hilarious and often heartbreaking, as Juliet learns that a shared sexual identity does not always translate to a shared human experience. Juliet Takes a Breath is technically a young adult novel, but I haven’t ready any book that tackle feminism, identity, race, culture and white fragility with such deftness and humor. Rivera’s characters are fresh, but painfully familiar and her voice is completely original. The novel has even been compared to The Catcher in the Rye, to quote Inga Muscio, “Even if Holden Caulfield was born in the Bronx in the 1980s, he could never be this awesome.”
– Chiedu Egbuniwe, ONE Archives Foundation Board Member
A Wild and Precious Life (Memoir)
Edie Windsor’s memoir, written with the help of Joshua Lyon, was such a gripping read that I finished it in less than 24 hours! Published after Edie’s death in 2017, the book covers much more than her relationship with Thea Spyer and the Supreme Court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s a fascinating look at what life was like for a closeted lesbian born in 1929, who lived boldly in so many ways and yet had to construct elaborate falsehoods to keep the truth of her sexuality hidden from her family, her colleagues at IBM, and the world at large. Edie’s life is recounted in her own voice with context at the end of each chapter from Lyon, who fills in the gaps with stories from people who knew Edie well.
Shout out to ONE Archives Foundation’s Board member Jacky Guerrero, who recommended this to me!
If you’re curious about organizations that Windsor fought alongside in her advocacy work, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries has a subject file on the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD, 1900-2012) and numerous papers and photographs from individuals whose advocacy led to the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act.
– Jen Dawson, Director of Development
Queer Design Club (Slack Channel)
The intersection between queerness and design may seem intuitive to some people, but the truth is that the design as a professional practice is not very queer-centric. By that I mean, design, from its formation as an industrial-age practice has been based on the assumption that human subjectivity is non-queer and non-transgender. While I’m committed to interrogating this within the professional community, I often look for colleagues for support and inspiration.
The Queer Design Club is an internet-based community where LGBTQ+ designers across all sub-disciplines within design come together to share their works, stories, tips, professional advice, tools, and other resources. The Queer Design Club is on extremely active on Slack, and maintains a presence on Twitter and Instagram.
Since I joined the group, I’ve logged on the QDC Slack channel semi-regularly to share my work, look for design resources, and network with other queer and trans folx. QDC also has a Medium account through which members publish thought-provoking articles about inclusive design, accessibility practices, and intersectional politics seen through the lens of design. If you’re a designer searching for a safe and supportive community of practitioners, QDC is it for you.
– Umi Hsu, Director of Content Strategy
Never Have I Ever (TV Series)
This show is fantastic! As someone who went to high school in the Valley, the story-telling immediately drew me in because it is representative of the racial and ethnic diversity that I grew up around. This diversity has often misrepresented in mainstream media unfortunately. My high school self would find the main character, Devi, relatable. Even though I’m not Indian, Devi’s experience of being a part of an immigrant family speaks to a lot of the growing pains I went through. And one of her best friends Fabiola is a queer teen of color. Check it out on Netflix!
– Erik Adamian, Associate Director of Education
Bananagrams is a fun, fast paced, and slightly more competitive version of Scrabble that can be played with your loved ones. After the lettered-tiles are shuffled (facedown) and distributed from the main “Bunch,” someone yells “Split!” and everyone begins flipping their tiles. The objective is to build a grid of phrases using the tiles in your pile before anyone else. If you run out of tiles, you can say “Peel,” which requires everyone draw a tile from the main bunch; or, you can “Dump” a tricky tile into the main bunch and be forced to draw three more. The first person to finish their grid yells “Bananas!” and their grid is judged.
If you like a fun challenge to keep the game interesting, ask all the players to include an LGBTQ historical figure, common parlance or vocabulary as a rule of your own!
– Nick Bihr, Education and Outreach Assistant
Image credits: (1) Courtesy of Netflix. (2) Cover of book Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times by Rebecka Taves Sheffield. Litwin Books, Publisher. (3) Cover of book Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera. Cover art by Cristy Road Carrera. (4) Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, left, Ramona Young and Lee Rodriguez in a scene from Never Have I Ever. Courtesy of Netflix. (5) Cover of book A Wild and Precious Life by Edie Windsor and Joshua Lyon. St. Martin’s Publishing Group, Publisher. (6) Image by Rebecca Brooker and John Hanawalt. (7) Photo taken by Evan-Amos as part of Vanamo Media.