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The Future of Sexual Minority Histories

by Virginia Virtù in Nightlife & Reports , 15 oktober 2012

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

LGBTI ALMS Conference 2012. Between the 1st and the 3rd of August, more than one hundred individuals from all around the world (among others from Europe, South Africa, Canada, the USA and Australia) gathered together to attend the fourth edition of the LGBTI ALMS Conference, organized by IHLIA within the venues of the Public Library Amsterdam.

The main aim of the conference was to bring together international archives, libraries, museums and special collections to share their experiences on collecting, preserving and making accessible LGBTI histories. Several topics have been explored and several critical issues have been raised. How to collect our histories? How to make use of new media and technology? How to create more inclusive and accessible spaces? How to queer archives and museums? How to expand collaborations?

But undeniably everyone had a common vision in mind: a future where every museum, archive and library can make its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and intersex content visible, so that every young person entering a heritage institution could see themselves as part of the history of our society. As a matter of fact, there is often a common simple question that has probably wandered in many of our minds in the past and that is still sneaking around the thoughts of many young people right now: “Am I the only one in the world?” While sounding somewhat existential, this is not just a feeling of extreme teenage loneliness. On the contrary, this is a strong social quest carrying a series of crucial political questions: Do I have a history? Do I have a past and a present that I can somehow identify with? Do I matter for society? And can society matter for me?

Archives, libraries, museums and special collections established by the LGBTI movements around the world originate precisely from these wanderings, from the existential and from the political. Like vintage suitcases covering up stories of forgotten journeys, they are the actual repositories of our own hidden histories. Letters, books, films, accidental pictures, drawings, erotic pulp magazines hidden in basements, oral histories, or little objects can tell us secrets from the past, stories of love, passion, concealment, battles and lifestyles, in different times and contexts. And still we can feel attached to some of them, as they could belong to us, somehow.

In our societies, sexuality has been always treated as a minor historical issue. It is time for us, and for our societies, to recognize diversity, also within LGBTI communities themselves, historically and contextually. It is time for mainstream art and cultural institutions to embrace sexual politics as an integral policy and practice, to render our heritages visible to a broader public. Finally, it is time for us to reclaim our heritages, to re-appropriate them and question them in our own diverse ways, and make them accessible for future generations. Through opening up our pasts, LGBTI heritage institutions are making a difference in our present lives and in society at large, providing friendly and participatory spaces where we can share ideas, question our own assumptions and develop different strategies for the future, for us to advocate for continuities, resistances and subversions.

The LGBTI ALMS Conference has positioned itself as part of this turn, providing a fruitful platform for debate on the issues. It has given participant institutions and individuals an invaluable opportunity to learn from each other in order to make the vision of a more inclusive heritage possible and to build collaborations and alliances for further actions.

Because we do have histories, and we do have fascinating futures to build.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 330, februari 2019

Roze Filmdagen
March 14-24, 2019

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