COMING TO A CLOSE
This summer semester of 2021 I have worked thoughtfully and rigorously within an archive of LGBTQ history centered in Central Florida. I first conceived this project of video pathways into the collection with a fellow Board Member of the Museum as a 10-video project. What has emerged is three series of five videos that pull at distinct threads within the collections.
The first series unites what has previously been positioned as main or major themes in queer histories with underrepresented histories. This first collection consists of 1.1 Social / Bar History (Parliament House), 1.2 Pride events, 1.3 Student activism and community building (UCF), 1.4 Lesbian communities (LCN), and 1.5 Queer art that is also multilingual / transnational.
The second series more directly addresses political and racial histories. This set includes 2.1 Elected officials legislation and explicit persecution (Johns committee), 2.2 Black queer communities and Black queer art, 2.3 Music, 2.4 Profile of Bruce Ground, owner of Out and About Books, and 2.5 Gay Social Services. These selections speak to the intense political component of existing as queer in public spaces.
The third series more deliberately extends the histories to incorporate local / lifestyle aspects that have been neglected in histories in favor of the highlight-qualities of the other two series. These are 3.1 Spirituality (Joy MCC), 3.2 Disney’s Gay Day(s) (origins), 3.3 Education as political site (Anita Bryant’s campaign), 3.4 Philanthropy (Headdress Ball AIDS fundraiser), and 3.5 Print media periodicals (Center Fold).
As a collection of collections, these three series serve as entry points into the archives within the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida. Each is an invitation to deeper engagement for private site surfers as well as academic researchers accessing the extensive digital artifacts contained by the Museum.
The scope of this project did more than creep — it exponentially expanded. The final videos are complete in the first series, and the scripts for the other two are in progress. I will continue filming to complete the set this fall. I will collaborate with Board members to design a strategic plan for promoting and launching the content via the Museum’s website and social media. I have submitted a proposal to share this work with the National Council of Public History in March 2022 and will include data analytics and engagement metrics in that conference presentation.
These selections and scripts have been (and continue to be) reviewed by scholars and LGBTQ community members to ethically evaluate the contexts while delivering critical responses to the depictions and representations of queer history and LGBTQ people. This stage is ongoing.
The work and experience of this internship has shaped my practice as a public historian invaluably. I worked on the Queer Spaces exhibit, curated the LGBTQ Artists and Authors Panel, wrote the proposal for NCPH, and presented the video series at the UCF Summer Showcase. I was also awarded a fellowship with the Rollins Museum of Art as its inaugural DEAI graduate researcher. In the fall I will be working much more deeply with digital methods via critical making coursework as well as programming with python. The simultaneous skillbuilding of digital environments and the dynamic experience of scholarship in public practice has been inspiring and possibly even career-defining. I am thankful for the incredible opportunities and professional growth that directly resulted from this internship. My mentors and advisors, Dr. French, Dr. Brenckle, Dr. Beiler, and David Matteson are a dream team who each generously supported and encouraged this work throughout. Gold stars all around! Onward.