How Paris can support the preservation of LGBTQI history and culture

Tribune. Over the past fifty years, a movement has emerged around the world to trace the past of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer, intersex (LGBTQI) and preserve their cultures. This movement is necessary because the experience of LGBTQI people has been excluded from the archives by the traditional institutions that generate the history of our societies. This has resulted in a loss of historical understanding both for LGBTQI people and for society in general. The initiatives aimed at repairing this erasure depend on the specificities of the countries and regions concerned, but they share common objectives: documenting the LGBTQI experience in the past and present; make this documentation available to researchers of all kinds; support the production and dissemination of historical LGBTQI knowledge; and create an LGBTQI public memory through exhibitions, programming and cultural activities.

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One of the fundamental missions of this movement is the creation of structures designed and led by the LGBTQI community itself, in order to bring together and interpret the primary sources of its history and culture. As the people involved in creating, operating and supporting them, we are able to identify the qualities that are essential to their success. We know they will be effective precisely because they take root in the LGBTQI community. The impetus behind their foundation, development and use does not come from elected officials, governments, political parties or academic institutions, but from people genuinely concerned with the past that they are committed to. archive. It is they who respond to the deep desire of the LGBTQI community to claim a place in time and history for those who have been exiled from it. They do this by combining the development of innovative collections, research and critical knowledge while being attentive and responsive to the changing needs of the community.

Requirement of independence and neutrality

This intimate connection between LGBTQI communities and the structures that support their history and public memory is crucial for the production of original, credible and richly detailed knowledge about the LGBTQI past. It enables them to move beyond designs that traditionally define what is historically significant and relevant when it comes to stories and materials to be preserved. It encourages them to rethink the boundaries between archives, libraries and museums, which have the effect of further dispersing the fragments of the LGBTQI past. It also enables them to build and nurture close relationships with individuals on an individual basis, which makes it possible to identify and acquire collections that public archives miss or of which they do not perceive the importance. Finally, it allows them to understand how archives that may seem innocuous in the eyes of traditional institutions are often very rich sources for understanding the history of LGBTQI people.

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To be successful, it is just as important that LGBTQI archives clearly state their demands for independence and neutrality. Their missions, their collections, their programs, their exhibitions and their publications do not reflect the positions of any elected representative, any political party or the point of view of any LGBTQI group in particular. They strive to document history from every possible angle, whether it is political issues, movements, struggles or the everyday life experiences of LGBTQI people. Likewise, they seek to make this documentation available to researchers without partisan considerations. This impartial way of working fosters a relationship of trust between LGBTQI archives and LGBTQI people who know that their memory will be safeguarded, regardless of their personal commitments. And together, it strengthens the legitimacy of these archive centers as contributors to the history of society as a whole.

Preparatory work

All of this does not mean that the state and the university have no role to play in efforts to document the past and participate in the production of historical knowledge of LGBTQIs. In many countries, community-created and managed LGBTQI archive centers receive funding, resources and technical support from the state, regions, municipalities and other public bodies. Higher education and research establishments have built innovative partnerships with these archive centers by providing them with the places and personnel necessary to ensure their operation, leaving the collection, programming and organization of public events in the hands of the community. Such approaches help to establish a productive dialogue between the state, institutional archives, the university and community organizations.

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Despite the international scope of its LGBTQI heritage, Paris has not yet opened a dedicated archive center. Fortunately, the Archives LGBTQI collective, an association founded in 2017, did the preparatory work. It brings together associations and committed people who have the skills and networks required to carry out the task. The members of the collective have developed a proposal for an archive center reflecting best practices in the field and which will give the LGBTQI community the main role in reconstructing its own history.

To take the next step, it will require a respectful commitment on the part of the public authorities, as is the case in many countries. In Paris, Ile-de-France and at the national level, the authorities are now in a position to confirm their commitments to civil society by fully supporting the project of the Archives LGBTQI collective. They will thus help ensure that Paris takes its rightful place alongside the cities that host structures dedicated to the recognition of the LGBTQI past, which is a significant component of public memory, for all of their people. residents and their visitors.

Signatories: Ralf Dose, co-founder of Center Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft (Berlin); Ben Miller, Board Member of Gay Museum (Berlin); Katja Koblitz, co-founder of the Spinnboden Lesbian Archives and Library (Berlin); Executive Committee of theAustralian Lesbian and Gay Archives (Parkville, Australia); Hannes Sulzenbacher, co-director of QWIEN Center for Queer History (Vienna); Bruno Brulon AMAI Latin American Network of Archives, Museums, Collections and LGBTQIA + Researchers (Sao Paulo) ; Franco Reinaudo, director of the Museum of Sexual Diversity (São Paulo); Jacques Prince, president of Gay Archives of Quebec (Montreal); Raegan Swanson, Executive Director of The ArQuives (Toronto) ; Museum Q (Bogotá); Tobias Haimin de Fønss Wung-Sung et Bengt Olson du LGBT + Denmark Library National Association for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender People (Copenhagen); Transmaricabollo de Sol Assembly (Madrid); Julio Capó Jr and Emily K. Hobson, co-chairs of the Committee on LGBT History (United States) ; Terry Beswick, Managing Director of GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco); John Anderies, Director of John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center (Philadelphia); Nicole Verdes, President of the Board of Directors of Lambda Archives of San Diego (San Diego); Gary Wasdin, Managing Director of Leather Archives and Museum (Chicago); Deborah Edel, treasurer, Joan Nestle, co-founder, and Morgan Gwenwald, coordinator of the Lesbian Herstory Archives (Brooklyn, New York); Ms. Bob Davis, director of Louise Lawrence Transgender Archive (Vallejo, California); Chris E. Vargas, Managing Director of Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art (Bellingham, Washington); Hunter O’Hanian, PDG du Stonewall National Museum and Archives (Fort Lauderdale, Florida); Association Medusa (Paris) ; Simone-de-Beauvoir Audiovisual Center (Paris); Chrystel Grosso du Family Planning Documentation Center (Paris) ; Lesbian Archives, Research and Cultures (ARCL, Paris); Christian de Leusse, founder of Memory of sexualities (Marseille) ; Minority memories (Lyon) ; Athens Museum of Queer Arts (AMOQA, Athens); Arvind Narrain and T. Jayashree from Queer Archive for Memory, Reflection and Activism (Bangalore, India); Orla Egan, founder and curator of the Cork LGBT Archive (Cork, Ireland); Sara de Giovanni, director of Flavia-Madaschi Documentation Center, Cassero LGBTI Center (Bologne) ; CRAAAZI, independent transfeministaqueer research and archive center (Bologna); Miguel Alonso Hernández Victoria, director ofMiscellaneous files and memories (Mexico); Lonneke van den Hoonaard, Director General of IHLIA LGBT Heritage (Amsterdam); Steering Committee of Society for Queer Memory (Prague); Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr, Founders of Lavender Menace LGBT+ Books Archive (Edinburgh); EJ Scott, curator of the Museum of Transology, Bishopsgate Institute (London); Joseph Galliano, co-founder and CEO of Queer Britain (London); Ana-Dolori Marinović, President of the QRAB The Queer Movement’s Archive and Library (Gothenburg, Sweden); Ulf Petersson, co-founder of Unstraight Museum (Stockholm) ; Center Grisélidis Réal (Geneva) ; Aylime Asli Demir, coordinator of Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (Ankara); Dinh Thi Nhung, fondatrice du Sudden Table (Hanoi).

Collectif Archives LGBTQI


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