Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gay Rights Movement Since Stonewall

This summer, we will honor the 41st anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. In June, we will also celebrate the courage of those who participated in the Stonewall uprising in New York, a moment most often associated with the birth of the gay civil rights movement. Yet protection for lgbt people in the United States is still patchy at best. There is no legislation at the federal level that extends basic human rights to lgbt people! It's simply appalling.

Does this make you want to rage? It makes me want to talk to more people, advocate for gay history to be recognized as an important part of our cultural landscape, and work with young people to ensure that they know what happened and what has yet to come.GGrrrrrrrrr....!

I know that I'm a bit late in posting this, but last year, on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the New School held a conference on the Gay Rights Movement Since Stonewall.

The full video is just over an hour and posted for streaming download at

Here is a snippet from the conference available on YouTube.

And this is a passionate plea for progress on civil rights as well:

Monday, March 8, 2010

All hail the Watermelon Woman!

I just re-watched Cheryl Dunye's 1996 classic, The Watermelon Woman, and want to urge everybody who hasn't seen it to drop whatever they're doing and rent it right now. The scene in which the main character visits a lesbian archives (which also features an appearance by writer Sarah Schulman) is hilarious and not to be missed. Good thing the CLGA makes things a little easier for our researchers!
One caveat: this movie serves as a somewhat terrifying stroll down Fashion Memory Lane for those of us who may have at one point worn cut-off jean shorts, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

CLGA goes to the ALA

CE Committee member Rebecka Sheffield has been tapped to present at the annual conference of the American Library Association June 27, 2010 in Washington DC. The topic of her talk will be "There's a Gay Archives?" : Outreach and Advocacy at the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives"

Read the abstract below:
Over the past twenty years, archivists have become increasingly interested in outreach and advocacy programs that can help entice visitors to the archives and encourage support for archival activities. In particular, many community archives have developed strategies to engage with the communities they serve. By doing so, they aim to raise awareness of their role in society, bolster support for their programs, and improve access to their records of enduring value. The Community Engagement Committee of the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA) was formed in 2008 while the institution prepared to move into its new, permanent home at 34 Isabella Street in Toronto. The Committee's mandate is to to undertake advocacy and outreach activities, as well as to develop educational programming around the archives' collections. My presentation will provide a brief overview of advocacy and outreach in archives, emphasizing connections between access to information and outreach activities. I will then provide a brief description of the work of the CLGA's outreach activities, including workshops with Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in public high schools, blog and Web site publishing, a visiting speaker series, and presentations at local conferences. Finally, I will argue that outreach and advocacy should be considered when archives evaluate their ability to provide access to the records in their holdings. After all, the best findings aids in the world will not suffice if the community doesn't even know that the archives exists.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Same Sex Marriage Rights Reach Latin America

I heard about this today during lunch and thought it was a nice good news story well worth sharing. Seems like equality is finally catching on, even in a place where religion is integrated with government, so there may be hope for the rest of the world too.

This Gay in History #3 Jane Rule

Jane Rule claimed she was a tomboy growing up and felt like an outsider for reaching six feet tall and being dyslexic. When she was 15, she read The Well of Loneliness and wrote later, "suddenly discovered that I was a freak."

Perhaps. But most consider her one of the best known Canadian authors and lesbian activist. Her most famous book, Desert of the Heart, was rejected by 22 publishers before it was finally published in 1964. The novel features a romance between two women and was adapted into a 1985 film starring Helen Shaver.

Rule was awarded the Order of Canada in 2007, shortly before her death from liver cancer. Her ashes were interred in Galiano Island Cemetery next to those of Helen Hubbard Wolfe Sonthoff, her beloved partner since 1956.