The ALMS Without Borders conference took place from Wednesday 22 June to Friday 24 June 2016 in London, UK. The conference was hosted by the City of London through London Metropolitan Archives in partnership with Bishopsgate Institute and the University of Westminster.
Attending the conference in London was an incredibly valuable experience. It enabled us to access libraries, archives, and museums in the city, and to conduct research and gather information for subsequent projects. The conference was very fertile ground for dialogue and making connections with individuals, groups, and organizations from both, Europe and the United States. We met a variety of individuals including scholars, researchers, PhD students, archivists, curators, librarians, and artists who share an interest in documenting, preserving, and sharing LGBTQ+ cultures and histories. We appreciated the conference organizers’ visible and thoughtful support for and solidarity with the worldwide LGBTQ+ community.
I am very grateful for the bursary from the City of London through the London Metropolitan Archives, which afforded me the opportunity to travel to London to present at the conference. My colleague and I conducted a participatory drawing workshop in which we gathered material for an LGBTQ+ archive we are creating, and in exchange offered free art t-shirts to participants. Additionally, we presented a talk on the final day of the conference to an enthusiastic audience, in which we highlighted several of our projects that use materials from LGBTQ+ archives within the US and beyond. These projects reactivate historical texts and images, putting them back into circulation in response to issues and struggles that continue today. The projects advocate for equality and the preservation of LGBTQ+ culture, in the face of injustice and assimilation. Taking inspiration from grassroots activist movements, we disseminate our messages through democratic means, including exhibitions, drawing workshops, stickers, cards, posters, protest songs, social media, t-shirts, and performance/lectures. Our projects seek to draw connections between the past and the present, bringing the urgency of earlier LGBTQ+ civil rights struggles to bear on the issues of today, as well as preserving the legacies of ordinary LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
We continue to benefit from the connections we forged at the conference. Since the conference ended, we have been in dialogue with many of the attendees. After the conference ended, we met with fellow attendees in Paris, Amsterdam, and the United States. Long after it has ended, the ALMS Without Borders conference continues to facilitate meaningful dialogue, exchange of ideas, and connections for us.
We are grateful for the conference organizers’ invitation to present our project and for their financial support and generosity, without which our involvement and presentation would not have been possible.
AK/OK – Kate Jarboe/M. Wright