With social media and the internet permeating every aspect of our lives these days, it’s no surprise to hear that some people find books obsolete. Along with the books, they (wrongly) believe that places such as libraries are a waste of tax dollars. I know I don’t have to tell you how messed up that is, so instead, let’s talk archives.
Specifically, let’s talk about the Queer Archives Project.
First of all, the internet I mentioned before is really one of the only reasons we have as much LGBT history recorded the way we do. Thanks to today’s technology, that history is able to spread and be easily accessed by anyone, so that everyone can be educated on LGBT topics. This is really helpful for those who are questioning their identities. It’s also helpful for parents of LGBT kids who want to be supportive, but feel like they’re a little in over their heads.
As time moves forward and the world becomes more accepting, — or maybe the world is staying the same, and those who aren’t accepting are just dying off — LGBT news has started to become just regular news. With this new acceptance and the sheer amount of people interested in LGBT history, we need somewhere to keep all of this information so that it’s easily accessible.
That’s where the Queer Archives Project comes in.
The project, started at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, is a website that aims to “impact climate, build community, inspire new policies, and stimulate dialogue about LGBTQ+ issues and culture at Lafayette (College) and beyond,” according to their welcome page.
“The Queer Archives Project does not merely wish to ‘preserve’ Lafayette (College)’s LGBTQ+ history. We want to complicate the College's Queer past (and present), and merge it with its educational mission. Our work is designed to promote teaching, learning and research in LGBTQ+ Studies, particularly through links to the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program,” the welcome page continues.
The year was 1992 when Lafayette College was simultaneously ranked No. 1 for most homophobic college in the United States, as well as number two for “most gays in the closet” by the Princeton Review.
There are approximately 5,300 colleges in America. I don’t know how many colleges there were in 1992, but I can imagine it was still a lot. Honestly, regardless of how many colleges there are — whether it’s 5,000 or just two — being ranked as the most homohpobic is a pretty big “yikes” from me.
In 2016, Lafayette College Sexuality Studies teacher, Mary Armstrong, began conducting oral interviews. Since then, the project has gotten much larger, and alumni of the Pennsylvanian school have begun reaching out to be interviewed for the project.
The website now includes a section with transcripts of the oral interviews, keywords from the aforementioned interviews and even “intensive, thesis-driven essays that thread through the site.”
I believe our school could benefit from something similar to the Queer Archives Project. It’s really amazing to see how the most homophobic school in the country can change and grow thanks to the mindsets of its students and recognize where it has gone wrong in the past.
The project will continue to grow over in Pennsylvania, and who knows? Maybe one will start here.