One of the projects Queen’s University Archives (QUA) will be focusing on this summer is the Kingston Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*-identified (transgender, transsexual) and Queer (LGBTQ) Archives Project, headed by Public Services and Private Records Archivist Heather Home and Dr. Mary Louise Adams, under the direction of the Kingston LGBTQ Archives Project Advisory Board. Dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of Kingston’s LGBTQ communities, the project aims to compile an oral history by conducting interviews with community members who can bear witness to the culture and community between the years 1970 and 2000.
For the past three weeks, as the interviewer for this exciting project, I’ve been busy researching in order to better familiarize myself with both the practice of compiling an oral history and with the existing knowledge of Kingston’s queer history that has already been shared/collected.
I kicked off my research with Marney McDiarmid’s 1999 MA thesis From Mouth to Mouth: An Oral History of Lesbians and Gays in Kingston from World War II to 1980, which is a well-written documentation of Kingston’s queer scene over the thirty-year period preceding our current project’s starting point. From there I moved on to Boyd and Ramirez’s Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History (2012), wherein multiple interviewers have published interviews with members of queer communities, each followed up by a commentary/analysis of the interview process – a recommended read for anyone with an interest in this area. This, along with Ritchie’s Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide (2003), has proven invaluable to my research regarding the practice of conducting and transcribing queer oral histories.
As for elements of Kingston’s queer history that have already been shared/collected, I’ve had the pleasure of delving into materials already deposited at QUA, along with a folder of news clippings and event notices passed on from Marney McDiarmid’s research. The archival material I’ve gone over thus far have included copies of the D.C.-based women’s journal Off Our Backs and Toronto’s Rites of Lesbian and Gay Liberation, as well as operations and event records from both the Queens Homophile Association (QHA) and the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP).
Moving forward, I will continue to research and explore archival material as I anxiously anticipate starting the interview process, which is now just around the corner! More updates to follow!
Justine Marchand, BA(H) Student, Gender Studies and History