“LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now” ~ an OSU Queer Archives Exhibit

"LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now" Exhibit

“LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now” Exhibit

Join the OSU Queer Archives in highlighting a newly acquired collection, the After 8 Records! After 8 was an organization that championed for LGBTQ+ rights in Benton County during the 1990s. The OSU Libraries and Press PROMISE Intern 2016, Cece Lantz, curated a small exhibit that features materials from the collection and showcases a number of current Oregon LGBTQ+ community organizations. Come see the display in person at the Valley Library and check out photos of the items featured through the Digital Display in Flickr

Exhibit Information:
What: “LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now” ~ an OSU Queer Archives Exhibit
Where: Main Floor, OSU Valley Library, Display Case to the left of the Main Entrance
Who: Display curated by Cece Lantz, OSU Libraries and Press PROMISE Intern 2016
When: July – September 2016

Also, be sure to check out our many other displays: Oregon Multicultural Archives Heritage Month Displays as well as our Display Digital Collections in Flickr

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When I began looking through the After 8 collection, I was immediately astounded at the amount of impactful LGBTQ+ activism the organization completed in such a short amount of time. Additionally, I was motivated by the idea that the organization began as an act of resistance against anti-LGBTQ+ bills that were attempted to be passed by a conservative queer-phobic organization. As I continued through the collection, I found myself increasingly frustrated that I hadn’t heard of After 8 prior, being that they existed in Corvallis and also made a lot of Benton County and Oregon legislative changes as well as worked to change the visibility of LGBTQ+ folks in Corvallis. As a queer activist myself and having been very involved in queer activism on campus during my undergrad, I found it unsettling that much of their own visibility didn’t exist much in current social justice circles and/or within LGBTQ+ resources on campus. Social justice work – especially when it involves working toward liberating communities in which you belong to – is exhausting in multiple ways and far underrated and underappreciated. For that reason, I really enjoyed curating this display because they truly deserve the recognition for the work they did and the emotional, physical, and mental labor it took in the making.

To further the importance of representation, I decided to showcase other groundbreaking organizations that partake in contemporary LGBTQ+ activism in Oregon. I chose the PFLAG Portland Black Chapter, The Q Center, and Basic Rights Oregon because all three organizations not only center LGBTQ+ activism at the heart of their work, but they actively strive for intersectional liberation. That is, they acknowledge and address multiple intersections of identities and the variety of diverse lived experiences that are a result of those intersections. I thought it important to not only showcase the collection of After 8, but to also include organizations that have continued the process of LGBTQ+ activism and liberation in Oregon.

Lastly, I included a list of the names of those whose lives were taken in the 2016 Pulse Orlando Shooting – a recent massacre at a LGBTQ+ club in Orlando, FL. Many of the victims were queer and trans people of color, which highlights the importance of assessing issues of inequality and prejudice from an intersectional perspective. I added in some popular books written by LGBTQ+ activists in color to act as resources if viewers wanted to further their learning.

Moreover, the experience for me was both empowering and impactful: giving recognition to the under-appreciated activists in our community was very rewarding, and I was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that, in addition to the historical and personal connection I was able to make to the physical collection.

~ Cece Lantz, “LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now” exhibit curator and OSU Libraries and Press PROMISE Intern 2016

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2 Responses to “LGBTQ+ Activism in Oregon: Then and Now” ~ an OSU Queer Archives Exhibit

  1. Scott Thiemann says:

    The display you’ve created is important for people to see. As a gay man, I lived through much of the incredible ignorance and prejudice of ballot measures put forward by groups such as the OCA–Oregon Citizens’ Alliance–to limit and to even remove my rights, such as working with children as a classroom teacher.

    That being said, I am annoyed at the broad brush that you and others–‘activists’–use in painting me and others who don’t identify with the ‘queer’ label as you so often do. Although this may be a way of you “owning” that label as a way of taking back power from those who have used it in a disparaging manner, I don’t see that as a positive, at least for myself.

    There are other words still used in the ‘community’ (to start with, what exactly does that mean to me?) that also don’t serve us, and no one seems to question. What specifically comes to mind for me is the word, ‘homophobic’ (or perhaps as you now state, ‘queer-phobic’?). This means fear of homosexuality, and I don’t perceive this to be accurate. Instead, I would challenge that a more useful term would be ‘heterosexist’, because that implies one group’s privilege over another, which, again, is much more accurate. Up until we received the equal right of marriage, others could assert their privilege and ignorance–not that they still can’t do that in employment and such–upon us.

    I would also put forth that those who are ‘homophobic’ are probably just as likely to be homo- or bisexual and for whatever reason, don’t or can’t deal with it. And, possibly as likely, I believe that some of those who may display this trait the most may have some same-sex experience about which they feel guilty or some sort of abuse that they have experienced in the past from the same gender with which they have never come to terms. Perhaps this may not be the same for women who are attracted to or in relationship with the same sex, but it would be a question that seems to beg for more exploration in this day and age.

    There are a number of terms that I have challenged and questioned in the past, including ‘lifestyle’ and ‘preference’, both in terms of orientation. I even question the whole idea of ‘gay pride’. If I chose to be gay, then that would be a reason to be proud, perhaps. HOW I deal with being gay in a society that discriminates, now that is something that one can be proud of. My partner and I are out and fairly visible in a very rural community and county. After a number of years of providing support and outreach on GLBTandQ outreach in rural areas of Eastern Washington state, what often makes the biggest difference for many in the heterosexual population are those who just live their lives…and this is not to say that we don’t need those who also speak out against the prejudice they observe or experience.

    And this is another area of concern for those of us who ‘happen to be gay’ (or ‘queer’, in your case). Living a rural ‘lifestyle’ (The word IS accurate in this case, as that was a choice.), we see lots of prejudice from the urban sector, which often pride themselves on being more enlightened and educated, and that truly is a shame, because there is a whole world out here of which many folks–especially these days–when the population has become even more urban, just don’t seem–or want to–get. Due to just numbers, folks from the city and university towns get to call the shots in the legislature that affect those of us who live and make our livelihoods in the country.

    There is much more to be said on a number of points, but I will leave it here for now. I thank you for opening up this possibility for education on a number of fronts. The work you are doing is important…and appreciated. It’s also important to keep conversations open, real, and active and to question ideas that may get put forth or seen as authoritative when they often reflect a certain bias and possess a certain political and/or activist angle or agenda.

    • Natalia Fernandez says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! We very much hope that the archive is as you said, a “possibility for education on a number of fronts.” There is a great deal of history and a variety of perspectives to gather and share, and we intend to give the opportunity to those who wish to make their stories known, discussed, celebrated, and remembered. ~ Natalia Fernández, OSU Queer Archives

      P.S. If you are interested in learning more about OSQA and other archival repositories in the state with similar collection initiatives, there is a blog post about a panel discussion, including the use of the term “queer”, that we gave at an archives conference in April; the blog post has a link to an audio recording of the discussion: http://wpmu.library.oregonstate.edu/oregon-multicultural-archives/2016/04/29/osqa-nwa-2016/

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