The archives of the GLBT Historical Society are committed to documenting the diversity of the LGBTQ community and the intersectional lives of its members. One reflection of this commitment is our holdings on LGBTQ people with disabilities, including community members who joined the disability rights movement that emerged in the 1970s.
One of our larger collections addressing the subject is the records of Able-Together, a San Francisco-based international organization in the 1990s. Through social activities and a magazine, Able-Together: A Forum for Men With and Without Disabilities, the group facilitated romantic and erotic contacts for gay and bisexual men with disabilities, who often faced discrimination at bars, sex clubs and other gay venues.
Our archives also contain personal papers of LGBTQ people with disabilities, including a number who were engaged in advocating change as both performers and activists. To cite just two examples:
The papers of Julia “Dolphin” Trahan, a lesbian artist and disability rights activist, provide a window into her performances in the 1990s, including one entitled “Body Talk = Survival: Intersections of Disability, Race and Sex.”
The papers of Diane Hugaert contain materials related to her work with Wry Crips, a theater group for women with disabilities founded in Berkeley in 1985 and still active today.
Those interested the disability rights movement also will find an important source in the Daniel A. Smith videotapes. This collection includes an unreleased 31-minute documentary by Smith, “Sign 504 Now,” about a four-week sit-in by disability rights protestors at a federal office in San Francisco in the late 1970s.
To learn more about the GLBT Historical Society’s collections on disability, search our online archives catalog. And if you have materials reflecting the lives of LGBTQ people with disabilities you might wish to donate, email our managing archivist, Joanna Black.
Mark Sawchuk is a member of the GLBT Historical Society Communications Working Group.
Reprinted from the January 2018 issue of History Happens, the monthly newsletter of the GLBT Historical Society. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
An initiative to put the full contents of the longest-running continuously published LGBT weekly in the United States online has reached its first milestone with the posting of five years of historic back issues. The GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco has been working for a year to digitize the Bay Area Reporter, founded in 1971. The newspaper’s own website offers articles published since 2005, but earlier issues of the publication had previously been available only at the society’s archives or via microfilm in a handful of research libraries.
“The Bay Area Reporter is an exceptional resource for historians, students, preservationists, writers, filmmakers, genealogy enthusiasts and everyone who’s curious about the LGBTQ past,” said Terry Beswick, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society. “Through news and features, critical reviews, nightlife reports, editorials and opinion columns published over nearly half a century, the paper has reflected the dynamism and diversity of LGBTQ communities in the Bay Area, a region internationally recognized as a center of queer culture.”
Michael Yamashita, publisher of the Bay Area Reporter since 2013 and majority owner of the publication since December 2017, added the following: “This invaluable resource is made possible thanks to the initiative of the GLBT Historical Society and the generosity of the Bob Ross Foundation. For the first time, readers from all over the world will be able to conveniently access the nearly 50-year archive of the BAR. It’s fascinating to browse through the years and appreciate what the LGBTQ community has achieved in San Francisco.”
Foundation Provided Full Funding
With full funding from the San Francisco-based Bob Ross Foundation, the GLBT Historical Society acquired the specialized equipment and hired the staff needed to undertake the digitization project. Tom Horn, trustee of the foundation, stressed the exceptional historical value of the content the project is making available:
“Launching an online, searchable archive of the Bay Area Reporter is a tremendous step toward giving scholars and the public alike access to a first draft of the history of our movement,” he noted. “Users will see what the issues of the time were; the personalities who shaped our movement; what was happening politically, socially and culturally. They will even see how gay people met, socialized, sought housing and found lovers — and how advertisers reached out to our community. The online archive will be an indispensable tool in telling our story.”
With assistance from nine volunteers, the GLBT Historical Society has already scanned nearly 600 of the 1,500 issues published by the Bay Area Reporter from 1971 to 2005. The five-year span covering 2000 to 2005 is now available free of charge via one of the organizations partnering on the project, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, hosted by the University of California, Riverside. The Historical Society plans to post all the remaining back issues before the end of the year.
“It’s clear what a rich and fascinating resource this digital archive will be,” said Bill Levay, the project archivist overseeing the digitization for the GLBT Historical Society. “I’m especially excited to see what eye-opening digital humanities projects might spring from this collection.”
For more information about the project and to search the historic issues of the Bay Area Reporter that are now posted online, visit www.glbthistory.org/bar.
About the Bob Ross Foundation
Based in San Francisco, the Bob Ross Foundation was established in 1996 by Bob Ross (1934–2003). A pioneer in the field of LGBT community journalism, Ross was the cofounder of the Bay Area Reporter, the longest continuously running LGBT news weekly in the United States. He was the publisher from the time the paper launched in 1971 until his death in 2003. Tom Horn, publisher emeritus of the Bay Area Reporter, now serves as trustee of the foundation, which provides grants to a broad portfolio of nonprofits that serve the Bay Area LGBT community. The foundation supports charities and causes that reflect the philanthropic priorities established by Ross.
About the Bay Area Reporter
The Bay Area Reporter is the oldest continuously published lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender weekly newspaper in the United States and is the highest circulation publication serving the LGBT communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1971, the Bay Area Reporter is known for its original reporting on news, culture and entertainment relevant to LGBT people. The newspaper is published every Thursday by BAR Media Inc.; the print edition is distributed free of charge in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. Visit the newspaper’s website at www.ebar.com.
For the Bay Area Reporter‘s article on the digitization project, see Matthew S. Bajko, “B.A.R. Archives Go Digital,” Bay Area Reporter (January 4, 2017).
The GLBT Historical Society preserves a significant collection of LGBTQ magazines, newspapers, newsletters and zines, largely but not exclusively from Northern California — some 5,000 titles taking up approximately 450 linear feet of shelf space. A particular strength is periodicals reflecting the voices of LGBTQ people of color.
Among the long-running titles for which we hold complete or near-complete runs are Bridge (1980-2009), the newsletter of Black and White Men Together in the Bay Area; Lavender Godzilla (1988-2006), the newsletter of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) in San Francisco; and Morena Newspaper(1988-1991), published by Women of Color Press/Empowering Our Communities in Berkeley.
African-American publications in our collection include Aché (1983-1989), “the Bay Area’s journal for Black lesbians,” and BLK:The National Black Lesbian and Gay Newsmagazine (1983-1989) . We also hold shorter runs or single issues of a number of Latinx LGBTQ newsletters such as Hombres Latinos (1999) and MariLES: El Sexo, las Locas y los Mayates/Magazine for Lesbian and Gay Latinos (1989).
To learn more about the GLBT Historical Society’s periodicals collections, search our online archives catalog. And if you have LGBTQ periodicals reflecting the lives of LGBTQ people of color you might wish to donate, email our managing archivist, Joanna Black.
is the assistant archivist at the GLBT Historical Society.
Reprinted from the December 2017 issue of History Happens, the monthly newsletter of the GLBT Historical Society. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
Responding to the shock, grief and disorientation the LGBTQ community experienced at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic was one of the factors that inspired the creation of the GLBT Historical Society in 1985. The first issue of our newsletter offered this explanation: “Part of the dying and grieving processes involves remembering and reflecting on the past, and the crisis itself has heightened our awareness of the history of the present.”
Our archives reflect this early and enduring commitment to preserving the memory of lives lost to AIDS and to documenting the impact of the epidemic on the LGBTQ community and Northern California as a whole. While researching a talk about the Historical Society’s three decades of work on the history of HIV/AIDS that I gave last month at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations in Marseille, France, I did a preliminary assessment of our AIDS-related holdings.
Here’s some of what I learned: Among our approximately 600 collections of organizational records and personal papers, at least 140 include materials dealing with HIV/AIDS. In our periodicals collection, 68 magazines focus entirely on the topic. Our collections of photographs, ephemera, posters, t-shirts, artifacts, audio recordings, and film and video likewise include documentation on the epidemic. The holdings represent a range of overlapping groups, including LGBTQ people, women, people of color, transgender individuals, injection drug users, immigrants and prisoners.
To learn more about this exceptionally rich body of historical materials, visit the Archives page on our website. Enter the keywords “AIDS” and “HIV” into the searchable catalog of archival collections to discover materials you can consult in our reading room. And search the digitized audio collections, too, for links to the full recordings of 32 gay radio programs from 1983-1984 that report on the AIDS crisis.
Gerard Koskovich is communications director for the GLBT Historical Society.
Reprinted from the November 2017 issue of History Happens, the monthly newsletter of the GLBT Historical Society. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
Behind the Scenes: The GLBT Historical Society Archives
Saturday, March 18
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
GLBT Historical Society Archives
989 Market St., Lower Level, San Francisco
The GLBT Historical Society preserves one of the world’s largest collections of LGBTQ historical materials. The archives are used by historians, writers, filmmakers and others researchers, yet they remain little known to the wider community. This special open house will offer members of the public a behind-the-scenes tour, including a rare opportunity to visit the archival reserve normally accessible only to Historical Society staff.
Managing archivist Joanna Black will provide an introduction to the collections and the function of the archives. Visitors also will have a chance to see highlights from the holdings that have never before been displayed publicly. Guided tours of the archives will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. To reserve a free ticket, RSVP no later than 3:00 p.m. on March 17 via Eventbrite.
July is International Zine Month! To celebrate, we invite you to join an interactive zine workshop led by Archives Assistant Alex Barrows at our newly opened facility on Market Street.
Zines are self-published works that are easy to make and that serve as alternatives to commercial publishing. They form invaluable sources for processing, asserting and researching sexual and gender identities. Collecting, trading and reviewing zines also fosters community. While the feminist zines of the riot grrrl movement have garnered much scholarly attention in the past several years, this workshop focuses more widely on zines as spaces for multiple gender and sexual identities.
First, we’ll hear tips of the trade from publishing experts Ocean Capwell, Nia King, Queer Anxiety Babiez and Larry-Bob Roberts. During the second part of the workshop, the archives staff will review the basics of zine-making. Workshop participants will create a one-time compilation zine to be preserved and accessible in the GLBT Historical Society Archives. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own supplies to use and share, as well as any of their own LGBTQI-related zines they wish to donate to the archives.
Fee: $5.00; reservations required. The workshop offers a hands-on experience, so only 20 tickets are available. Grab yours now!
We made it! The voluminous and priceless contents of our archives have been moved into their new location at 989 Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Public access will resume on Wednesday, June 29. All visits are by appointment according to the following schedule:
Members. Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non-members. Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
By BART: Take any San Francisco train to Powell Station, then walk one long block west toward Sixth Street. By Metro: Take any line to Powell Station, then walk one long block west toward Sixth Street. By Streetcar: Take Line F to Market & Taylor (westbound) or Market & Sixth (eastbound). By Bus: Take Lines 6, 7, or 9 to Market & Taylor (westbound) or Lines 6, 9, or 21 to Market & Sixth (eastbound). By Car: Metered street parking is available, but may be very difficult. There is a valet lot off Stevenson Street. Self-parking is available at the Fifth & Mission civic garage.
The GLBT Historical Society achieved a major goal this month with the recent move of our treasured archives to a new and expanded space in the mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco.
So many people contributed time, energy and resources to make this move possible. In particular, I want to give a big shout-out to a few unsung heroes who made it possible: outgoing board member and archives working group chair Al Bersch, board co-chair Brian Turner, managing archivist Joanna Black, and move manager Ramon Silvestre. We deeply appreciate their dedication to the cause of protecting LGBTQ history.
The move to the new space at 989 Market Street also was made possible by contributions from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Program of the Northern California Community Loan Fund, the GLBT Historical Society Board of Directors, the Excelerate Foundation, the Horizons Foundation, and — most importantly — 202 individual contributors to our Indiegogo campaign.
Thank you, all! Your support has ushered in a new era for the GLBT Historical Society. We’re especially delighted that we finally have room to grow — and we’re committed to using this opportunity to strengthen the diversity of our collections, especially by expanding our documentation of the lives of people of color, women, and other groups underrepresented in the archives.
To celebrate, we want to invite all our members and all the donors to our Indiegogo campaign to a special hard-hat preview of the new archives on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Managing archivist Joanna Black will be leading tours at the start of each hour. If you’re a member or a donor, please reserve a place (access code: GLBTHistory).
If you can’t make it to the preview, don’t worry. We’ll soon be settled in to the new archives space. The reading room will be open by appointment to researchers and other visitors in three or four weeks.
Watch your e-mail for another special announcement later this month. We plan to share our vision for an exciting new long-term project that will fully showcase LGBTQ history and culture in San Francisco for generations to come. As with the archives move, your support will be one of the keys to its success.
Local filmmakers Celeste Chan and Irina Contreras have joined forces to create a queer film mixtape from historic raw footage found in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society. After spending months unearthing the archival memory of queer life in moving images, Chan and Contreras pieced together an extraordinary short film that traverses bars, protests, street life, activism and the underground world of queer culture.
Chan is a queer artist, activist, writer and filmmaker whose parents are from Malaysia and the Bronx. Her writing can be found in AWAY, Cream City Review‘s Genrequeer folio and the Glitter and Grit anthology. Contreras is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose work has appeared in the anthology Beyond Walls and Cages. At the Queering the Castro program, they’ll show their LGBTQ archives mixtape and discuss the process of creating it.
Cosponsored by RADAR Productions and the GLBT Historical Society. Admission: free; donations welcome.
Our precious GLBT history is on the move! We were running out of space at our Mission Street location — and a rent hike at the end of the lease prompted us to look for a new home.
After a yearlong search, the society has found a larger, more appropriate space for our extensive archives, which preserve more than 100 years of GLBT documents, artifacts and stories. This means more room for collections, researchers, visitors and staff.
The GLBT History Museum will remain in the Castro, but the archives will now be housed at 989 Market St. in downtown San Francisco. We are planning to start the big move in May and anticipate that it will take two months.
We need your help to make the move. As you can imagine, office space in San Francisco’s real estate climate is an expensive undertaking. The expansion of our archives is crucial to preserving the stories of our lives for future generations. Below, our managing archivist, Joanna Black, tells just one story that shows how our expanding and improving our archives makes it possible to organize and properly store historical materials.
The GLBT Historical Society seeks a temporary Move Project Manager to oversee the administrative and logistical tasks required to move a moderate sized archives. Under the supervision of the Managing Archivist, the Move Manager will work a total of 200 hours over the course of six weeks, with four weeks at full time and two weeks at part time. This position is anticipated to begin May 1and end in mid-June. Compensation is $25 per hour.
Create and implement a master move plan, taking into account any move progress that has already been achieved by GLBT Historical Society staff and volunteers up to the starting date. Must be able to step in immediately and take over tasks and duties relating to the move of the archives and its collections, including:
assisting with collection inventory and location lists, moving and coordinating the movement of collection materials
maintaining move calendar and assisting in scheduling for the move (technical assistance, meetings, and appointments)
monitoring and maintaining working operation of office equipment and ordering supplies as needed for the move
assisting with packing of collection and office materials
examining collection materials and producing condition reports
communicating with movers, packers and third parties as related to the move
maintaining a location tracking system
performing other related duties as assigned
Completion of a college or university baccalaureate degree. MLIS or MA in museum studies, or equivalent experience managing at least one substantial move before. Familiarity with archival and museum registration techniques preferred.
Please send cover letter, resume, and three references to Joanna Black, Managing Archivist . Deadline for applications is April 11.
After far too many moons since a Visions and Voices update, we are back with some exciting news; the GLBT Historical Society has a new website! So go ahead and explore the sections, click on links, and see what amazing virtual nuggets of LGBT history await you.
In other exciting news, Visons and Voices is proud to announce the Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus)collection (#2011-03), now fully processed and available to researchers in the GLBT Historical Society Archives. Coming in at just over 43 linear feet, this is one of the archives’ larger collections and includes an array of Mister Marcus’ personal and professional materials: photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, awards, press packets, clothing, and more, highlighting Marcus’ deep and dedicated involvement within the leather community, the Imperial Court System, and his well-known weekly column in the Bay Area Reporter, which he wrote for over 38 years from 1971-2009. Additionally, Marcus contributed articles and photographs to Drummer Magazine, The Leather Journal, and many other publications, in addition to being a frequent judge at Mr. Leather, Mr. Drummer, and International Mr. Leather contests (among others).
Beside his expansive work within the leather community, Hernandez was actively part of the Imperial Court of San Francisco, one of the largest and oldest LGBT organizations in the world. In 1972, Hernandez became the first Emperor of the Imperial Court, or Emperor I After Norton. During his reign, he established the Spoon Awards which were presented to individuals in 20 different categories for continuously “stirring the pot”. He continued his involvement with the Imperial Court throughout his life, judging contests for many years.
His collection, which was donated to the GLBT Historical Society in 2010, is just over 43 linear feet and documents his life from the years 1933 to 2009. The materials have been arranged into “photographic and AV materials”, which make up the bulk of the collection, and “non-photographic and AV materials”. Included are: photographic prints, negatives, slides, floppy discs/compact discs, and VHS; memorabilia such as awards, contest programs, buttons, and books; personal papers including correspondence, ephemera and keepsakes, notebooks and schedules, and creative writing; professional papers, such as Bay Area Reporter columns and newspaper clippings authored by Mister Marcus; and textiles and apparel which include hats, watches, leather vests, and other related personal artifacts. A few of the collection’s photographs even document his childhood in the 1930s through his time serving in the US military in the early 1950s and up into his early years living in San Francisco in the 1970s. These early photographs help reveal the more personal side of Marcus’ history, something that is less evident in his professional work.
One of the GLBT Historical Society’s long-time volunteers, Richard Leadbetter, spent hours upon hours sorting through Marcus’ photographs – hundreds of rolls and prints documenting leather events and contests,
Imperial Court events, and Marcus’ circle of friends. When the photos were finally sorted and all other materials re-housed, preserved, and documented, Leadbetter and I created a collection finding aid and catalog record. Both those documents can be found by searching “Marcus Hernandez” on the GLBT Historical Society website’s “Search Our Archives” section.
If there’s any takeaway from the Marcus collection (and there are many!) it’s that Marcus seemed to have a part in everything LGBT-related in San Francisco. Photographs and references of him pop up everywhere, from his time working in the Mayor’s office in the early 1970s to those many Pride Parades in which he rode on his own float. For over 40 year, his presence in San Francisco put many at ease, while his quick wit earned him the respect of many. But he is not just a writer, an advocate, an Imperial Court Emperor; he is a legend, he is the one and only Mister Marcus.
Share a toast with Empress IV Reba of the San Francisco Imperial Court and check out the costumes at this party from 1968. Can you help us identify the location? This is a silent excerpt from the Anonymous Collection 2000-67, eight 8 mm films which revolve around Reba and the Court. We scanned the entire collection in high definition this past March.
The Castro Street Fair celebrates its 41st anniversary this Sunday. Founded in 1974 by Harvey Milk, it’s long been a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Artists, vendors, craftspeople, and community organizations line the streets while several stages feature live music and dancing.
The archives is fortunate to possess amateur videotape shot at the 1976 and 1978 fairs. It’s part of the Daniel Smith/Queer Blue Light collection of nearly 100 reels produced by community enthusiasts in the 1970s. Below, take a trip through the sights and sounds of the Castro Street Fair as it happened on October 3, 1976.
One of the larger collections that the NHPRC grant has brought to light in the archives is a videotape collection from the now disbanded group BML Videos. Coming in at just over 16 linear feet, this collection contains over 400 VHS and SVHS tapes created mainly during the mid-1980s through the late 1990s, documenting numerous LGBT events, contests, fairs, and performances in the Bay Area, including: Gay Softball League events; the Bare Chest, Cheeks & Chaps, Mr. South of Market, Mr. San Francisco Cowboy, Mr San Francisco Leather, Leather Daddy, International Ms Leather, International Mr. Drummer, and bodybuilding contests; events at the Eagle; Imperial Court coronations and celebrations; the Closet Ball; Folsom, Castro, Dore Alley and Mission Street Fairs; and Pride Parades. There is also video from the 1993 March on Washington and footage from bike and leather clubs and drag shows.
The BML Videos collection was donated to the GLBT Historical Society in 2014 and with it came, thankfully, an inventory of contents created by the collection donor (when a collection comes with any sort of inventory, archivists are generally happy campers). This inventory contains details about individual recordings that only the creator could know: who shot what footage, raw versus edited content, and exact video dates. As a research tool and supplemental guide, this inventory not only reveals valuable contextual information about the collection itself, but it also provides a useful map to help researchers better navigate the details of each recording.
But like many creator-produced collection inventories, the valuable information it contains doesn’t necessarily make practical sense to the public. To address this, an archival finding aid was created that not only contains basic collection information, such as the scope of the collection and how large it is, but also a simplified inventory, or container listing, that one can utilize to better understand the potential research value of the collection. This finding aid container listing is enhanced by viewing the donor’s inventory, making for a robust, multi-faceted collection guide when combined. It is a nice compromise between the MPLP practices we utilize here at the GLBT Historical Society archives and the more detailed item-level description that most archivists simply don’t have the luxury to carry out.
With the collection now fully processed, the BML Videos videotape collection (#2014-10) is open to researchers in the GLBT Historical Society archives. Guides for the collection can be found at the archives search page. To view items from the collection or the donor-created videotape inventory, please contact the archives team.