Our Voices The Orinam Blog

An LGBT archive in India

by Niruj Mohan Ramanujam

Historically, lesbian women and gay men have often been traumatized by  probing questions about their personal lives. This was and sometimes still is due to a perceived or very real threat that came along with these questions... does every new generation of gays and lesbians need to start from scratch over and over just because there is virtually no information about previous generations because they have been too discrete ? – LGBT archive http://www.fondssuzandaniel.be/

The LGBT ‘movement’ in india is about 15+ years old, has spread beyond the handful of metro cities, is staggering in its diversity of peoples who are accommodated within, and, the frequency of LGBT related events and happening around the country is increasing exponentially. Also, certain LGBT experiences which were ubiquitous a couple of decades ago, have all but disappeared. Hence it might be time to start thinking about an LGBT archive in India.

During an initial discussion, we (Arvind, Namita, Danish, Deepa, Jayashree, Lawrence, Niruj and others) came up with the following ideas about such an archive. We would like to make this a collaborative projects between everyone in the country who is interested, so please do email your ideas.

  • Everyone is a part of the archiving process, i.e., any one should be able to decide what they think should be archived.
  • There cannot be a central archive but multiple archives spread across the country, both physical and online.
  • If you and your friends think something in your region/state/town should be archived/documented, please go ahead and do so, and let us know about it.
  • We would like to set up a group which collates information on what material is archived/stored where, by whom, and its nature. This list of material should then be online so everyone knows what is where.
  • This collection of archives would obviously be heterogenous (see below for an example list)
  • Issues of safety, privacy, misuse etc need to be sorted out.
  • It would be great if groups took up projects to collect, create, preserve and archive material locally. Can those people willing to offer help for such projects (technical, material, financial etc) let us know?
  • It may be useful to explore collaborations locally with other archives, museums, institutes etc for physical space, help etc.

 

We would like to have a very broad and diverse range of material which would be worth archiving – some examples which came up during the discussion were oral histories, video interviews with older LGBT people, digitising newspapers records, love letters, personal letters, photographs, event flyers, protest pamplets, t-shirts, video footage of events and protests, posters, reports, catalogues, notes, etc .. as you can see, this would be a very diverse collection of archives indeed!

So if planning, creating and supporting such an archival project excites you, please get in touch. Ideally we would like to set up a nation-wide group of people who can take this forward.

Some of the online LGBT archives we managed to find:

http://www.onearchives.org/
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/out-there.htm
http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/handle/1808/5330
http://www.laganz.org.nz/
http://hallcarpenter.tripod.com/
http://www.gaycenter.org/community/archive
http://www.wrhs.org/index.php/library/Archive/LGBTArchives
http://library.umkc.edu/spec-col/glama/index.htm
http://www2.mtroyal.ab.ca/~canderson/home.htm
http://www.waygay.org/programs/cultural.asp#archives
http://www.glbthistory.org/
http://www.uwo.ca/pridelib/subjectcollections.html
http://www.clga.ca/
http://www.ihlia.nl/english/english
http://www.fondssuzandaniel.be/Newsiteen/index.php

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