Hey y’all! This post is a shout out to my friend Lenn Keller in support of her latest project. She is an activist, filmmaker, historian, and community archivist. She is also the founding organizer of the Bay Area Lesbian History Archives Project, and I am honored to be able to support her work. Lenn is working to expand the historical record to include Black lesbian histories and experiences, and you all know I’ve written about the lack of Black lesbian representation in lesbian historical texts, as well as in certain archives.
I met Lenn in 2009 while doing research for my dissertation. I came across the website for her film, A Persistent Desire, and contacted her about doing an interview. After talking with Lenn for hours on the phone, I realized that what I thought was simply a research problem was actually a larger issue: the lack of accessible archival material that documented Black lesbian lives and experiences in the United States. Very soon after our first talk, I made a trip to the GLBT Historical Center, and what I found there supported my hunch: If we want to make sure that the artifacts that make up our lived experiences are valued, we need to create our own archives. This is why the Bay Area Lesbian History Archives is so important. Barbara and Beverly Smith wrote in 1977, “As Black women, as Lesbians and feminists, there is no guarantee that our lives will ever be looked at with the kind of respect given to certain people from other races, sexes, or classes. There is similarly no guarantee that our movement will survive long enough to become safely historical. We must document ourselves now.” This what the BALHAP seeks to do, and we must support this work now, before our histories are lost.
So, please visit the Bay Area Lesbian History Archives Project Facebook page, and contact Lenn if you want to help with this important work. I’ll be posting an interview with her on this blog later this summer.
The struggle continues,