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OVERDUE EXPLORATION OF SEXUALITY AND GENDER IN UNDERREPRESENTED REGIONS
International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture, the fourth module in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender programme, examines populations and areas of the world previously underrepresented in prevailing scholarship on sexuality and gender, with a particular focus on southern Africa and Australia. The module also provides significant coverage of lesbian and feminist organisations, and lesbian culture internationally.
Alongside LGBTQ history, the module explores other individual and collective struggles for rights and freedoms. Contextualising sexuality within wider narratives of cultural and social history helps counter the erasure of LGBTQ stories and experiences from official histories.
Including manuscripts, periodicals and other ephemera, International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture totals around 450,000 pages of content dating from the 1820s, with the bulk of the material between 1970–2016.
The content is drawn from three archives:
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)
GALA is a centre for LGBTQ culture and education in South Africa, founded to address the erasure of LGBTQ experiences from official archives, histories and other spaces in South Africa. Set up in 1997 as the Gay and Lesbian Archives, the name changed in 2007 to Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action to encompass their expanding range of activities. International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture includes 25 GALA collections (over 99,000 pages) covering numerous aspects of LGBTQ life in southern Africa. Highlights include:
- The papers of Simon Tseko Nkoli – Nkoli was a prominent South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights and HIV/AIDS activist. His high profile helped change the attitude of the ANC towards gay rights.
- The papers of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) – SMUG is non-profit umbrella organisation for LGBTQ advocacy groups in Uganda. Founded in 2004, SMUG offers counselling and health services to the LGBTQ community, as well as highlighting and fighting persecution in Uganda.
- Exit newspaper – South Africa’s longest running monthly LGBT publication.
- The papers of LEGATRA – LEGATRA, the Lesbians, Gays and Transgender Persons Association, was established in 1997 as an alliance for the defence of lesbians, gays and transgender persons' basic human rights in Zambia. Due to institutional harassment, LEGATRA was short lived, with most members fleeing Zambia’s borders.
- The Papers of Joy Wellbeloved - Joy (James) Wellbeloved started the Phoenix Society in 1985 which provided a way for (white) men who dressed in women’s clothing to connect.
Lesbian Herstory Archives – Organization and Geographic Files
Established in the 1970s, the Lesbian Herstory Archives states that the organisation preserves records of lesbian lives and activities so that future generations will have ready access to materials, and researchers and scholars will be able to uncover the herstory previously ignored. This module includes around 130,000 pages of manuscripts and ephemera from two collections.
- Organization Files – These files include materials from or related to 1,640 voluntary and not-for-profit groups in the LGBT community that focus on lesbian issues or have lesbian participation. They range from small groups like the Black Lesbian Study Group (NY), to community centres such as the Lesbian Resource Center (Seattle, WA). There are also files for the LGBT task forces of many national organisations. Some of the oldest files, for the Daughters of Bilitis, date from the 1950s.
- Geographic Files – These files include material donated by the world-wide lesbian community who sent in items for archiving from their home state or that they picked up while traveling. The files include LGBTQ maps, city guides, event flyers, listings of bars, newspaper clippings and local newsletters.
Australian Queer Archives (formerly Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives) – periodical collection
Australian Queer Archives (AQuA) is a community group that collects and preserves material of an international scope, but focusing mainly on LGBTQ life in Australia, from the time of the Gold Rush to the battles against AIDS. This module includes the 122 titles in the AQuA periodical collection. Totalling over 216,000 pages, this is the largest collection of Australian LGBTQ periodicals available and provides a window into Australian LGBTQ history and culture from the 1970s to the 2000s.
The AQuA periodicals provide coverage at a national level, such as OutRage and Gayzette, as well as state level, such as CAMP NSW Newsletter and Speaking Volumes (Adelaide). There are also titles specific to the large metropolitan centres such as Capital Q (Sydney) and Now in Melbourne, and titles covering issues and organisations such as AIDS Action (Canberra) and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Guide.
Click here to watch a series of videos in which Phil Virta, the Senior Acquisitions Editor steering Gale's award-winning Archives of Sexuality and Gender series, explains the unique value of this module to students and researchers; delves into the content in each of the three collections; celebrates the volunteerism and passion of the organisations who have gathered and protected this material; and considers how this module can support institutions looking to decolonise the curriculum.
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Platform Features & Tools
Researchers can see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, places, events, and ideas interact and develop over time.
By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections within search terms—helping to shape research by integrating diverse content with relevant information.
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Reviews & Testimonials
Best eProduct/ Best in Humanities
"The program, which brings together about 1.5 million pages of rare and unique primary source content, is continuing to make an impact. It has become one of the most commercially successful Gale archives and can be found in institutions all around the globe. It recently won the PROSE award for "Best eProduct/Best in Humanities", presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing unit of the Association of American Publishers."
"The importance of individuals having access to these materials through local and university library subscriptions cannot be overstated. For many queer people, looking up homosexual or transgender at the library is a first step to self-knowledge—it certainly was for me—and it’s one that’s usually met with somewhat frightening clinical descriptions. With access to this resource, searchers will find themselves awash in a much richer—and inspiring—history than they might otherwise have encountered."
“Created for students and researchers . . . the product offers rare and unique documentation, including organizational papers, government documents, newsletters, photographs, and private correspondence...This is an ambitious beginning to another robust tool from Gale.”
“This is a very unique resource and represents a major and meaningful effort to support the study of LBGTQ issues. It is highly recommended for academic and large public libraries. It is carefully and thoughtfully constructed and enhanced with advanced search tools.”