Students met with representatives from the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries Thursday night in Waite Phillips Hall as part of EdMonth’s “Reclaim Your Narrative” event series. Hosted by the Queer and Ally Student Assembly, Academic Culture Assembly and EdMonth, the event centered its discussions around LGBTQ hxstory, a gender-neutral substitute for “history,” using primary documents from the expansive ONE Archives at USC.
ONE archivist Loni Shibuyama started the event by explaining that ONE began as a secret LGBTQ society, then expanded to become the first-ever magazine with the word “homosexual” on the cover. Now, ONE is both a non-profit organization and a collection of hxstory archives, of which USC Libraries boasts the largest in the nation.
With magazines and other materials from the archives in hand, students at the event discussed not only LGBTQ identity issues of the past, but how those issues are still all too real for people of marginalized identities. QuASA member Vanessa Diaz, a junior majoring in American studies and ethnicity, reflected on these difficulties as she compared the past to the present.
“Changing this system and this culture is still really important,” Diaz said. “Because even though queer identities don’t get discriminated maybe as much as they used to, people still get turned away from churches, people still get kicked out of their homes. There’s still a lot of work to be done even if we think the work is over.”
Leading the discussion, Educational Assistant Helen Aldana encouraged these modern-day connections and pushed their importance for modern LGBTQ rights movements. As a member of ONE’s Educational Department, Aldana and many others help to formulate educational materials to incorporate LGBTQ issues into regular history courses, helping students to make these historical connections sooner.
“With the curriculum, we’re hoping to have a legitimate idea what it means to be LGBTQ in our history,” Aldana said. “It’s nothing new. It’s not a hashtag. There’s always been a fight, and it’s important to show youth that so they can have that in their language.”
Panelists emphasized the importance of taking an active role in history throughout the event, especially in terms of how students can add to it themselves. Shibuyama noted that about 95 percent of USC’s ONE Archives consists of donated items and urged the students to add their own items to the collection.
“The thing that we want to have you take away from tonight is the importance of saving and documenting history, history that is being created now, and any history that you create going forward,” Shibuyama said.
The remarks of QuASA Director Alyssa Coffey echoed Shibuyama, as she discussed bringing history into the present tense.
“History is not always in the past,” Coffey said. “What we’re doing now is going to impact what is done tomorrow.”