Thanks to Erik Adamian at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at University of Southern California (@OneArchives) for the tour and introduction to all of the humans who helped the world learn to love better, often at great cost.
The occasion of my visit was based upon the fact that several of my photographs are now part of the newest transgender history panels developed by ONE, and currently on display at Los Angeles City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Any organization can order a set of panels to introduce their communities to this history.
Inhabiting a former fraternity house in Los Angeles, the archives offer transportation to a place where people led in a world that didn’t want them to, and succeeded anyway.
What a History It Is
I chose the photograph above because Erik introduced me to the work of photographer Pat Rocco by saying, “He did what you do today,” which is take photographs of protests of his day. I guess I do that 🙂 .
He was much more prolific than I am, and also ventured into other aspects of LGBTQ culture that I have not.
I don’t know if he realized that he was capturing history when he snapped his shutter. I definitely knew I was.
How do you know transformational leadership? You know it when you see it. I see it all the time here. And I know it comes at great cost, even today.
In addition to these works, I got to see the very first issue of PRIDE (“Personal Rights through Defense and Education”), which became The Advocate of today.
There’s also a comprehensive digital library housed at University of Southern California.
If you want to see a picture (or actually a video) of courage, watch this Pat Rocco film, taken while police were harassing people at the Meat Market Bar in 1970: Police raid (owner arrest) of the Meat Market, ca. 1970
We forget to remember the villains as well as the heroes
Erik asked me to choose a box of archives at random and in them, I found the file for Phyllis Schlafly and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Schlafly was a bit before my time but I definitely cast her as “foe” versus friend. Knowing about the people who fought to keep other humans from living authentic lives helps us know how to make sure they can live them today.
Even half a century ago, love won, as it always does
Erik prepared a few exhibits for me to look at, including a set of photographs that was donated anonymously and appear to show a same-sex wedding in Philadelphia.
They remind me that one of the most powerful human impulses is to control one’s own destiny, and that’s what people did.
How long is too long to wait
For people living as their authentic selves, a second is too long, and their work to change everything will fill archives buildings from top to bottom, left to right. I’m glad those who aren’t here came before me, I’m glad for those who are here here, as should all humanity; diversity allows our species to survive 🙂
Enjoy the photos and if you are in the neighborhood of Los Angeles City Hall, feel free to pay a respect to the trans and gender nonconforming people who came before us.
My visit confirms what I already knew, stated so well by Jerome Pohlen in his book Gay and Lesbian History for Kids (see: Thanks for publishing my photo, in this lovely book: Gay & Lesbian History for Kids, by Jerome Pohlen )
First, the LGBT community has never given up on a struggle, even if it took decades to achieve. And second, in the end, they always win.
Link to photos on Flickr – Click on any below to enlarge