Queer and Trans people often try to create connections and relations across different historical moments in time, and often rely on archives for this work. As marginalized communities that are constantly in a struggle for visibility, political identity, and space against structural forms of power, for many contemporary queer and transgender people, evidence of their existence emerges in part through critical documentation. Archives offer rich potential for identification-to “find oneself”, learn and gain affirmation through what remains, and also what is absent, or contradictory.
I was very pleased to receive a bursary to attend LGBTQ+ Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections, significantly titled “Without Borders.” The urgency of our efforts to preserve and share LGBTQ+ and People of Color histories was so palpable at this international conference. I feel this urgency now, in the US, in the aftermath of an election that favors white supremacy. I also felt this in London, after waking up to the news of Brexit. I was staying with two friends of my mother’s. They are two women in their 70’s who sleep in different rooms, but are in a queer, multiracial relationship. We watched the news with tears in our eyes. Later at the conference it was helpful to be surrounded by queers and folks of color who are doing such important work. Work to document trans lives, black LGBT lives, and refugee lives. All of the presentations I attended were so meaningful, and I was so grateful to be able to learn, celebrate, and mourn with all of you. Thank you again to Bishopsgate, London Metropolitan Archives, and all of the organizers and presenters at the conference. I hope to keep in touch and to keep this community growing.
Bathroom at the London Metropolitan Archives
Auntie Suriya at the Tate Modern
Hans at Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball