I went to Midsumma Carnival this afternoon. It was hot, and there were crowds of people. I wasn’t having fun. Luckily I was there with a friend who isn’t a fan of crowds or heat either. We hid in the shade and had an ice-cream, and now I’m home listening to punk music and pretty happy. Oh, did I tell you I hate techno/dance music too? I am a bad queer.
The search for identity is a complicated one. Being by nature and choice a solitary type means that I don’t have the ability to easily be defined by my relationships. At work I don’t tend to insert my identity into conversations by dropping references to a partner and so by default people assume me to be straight.
My political and relationship ideologies mean I find some contemporary queer conversations as problematic as mainstream ones. I’m not going in to details on that though, if you want to find out what I think about marriage equality you are going to have to buy me a beer sometime.
I know why I went. Because, for better or worse, that is my tribe. Being able to walk through Alexandra Gardens once a year and soak up the glorious queerness is wonderful. The more letters that get added to LGBTQI the more my heart expands and the more hope I have for a world of inclusivity and openness. I also got this fabulous badge from the Victorian Public Sector stall.
Last week I attended the opening of an exhibition at the City Library, responding to the homophobia in the Dewey Decimal System. It included materials from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) on the Gay Library Workers group in the 1970’s.
Its fantastic to see archival material related to contemporary conversations like this. Of course I naturally cast around to see where else the same conversation is happening, not just in archives, but across the GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive, Museum) sector.
In my last post I wrote about archivists being agents of change, and actively intervening in spaces where our particular skills are required. There is great work being done by organisations such as ALGA (and many more) and other small, special archives and collections. There are also archivists writing and thinking about how we ensure that we fill the preserved cultural record with more diverse stories. It make me think harder about my own privileged position, how important it is to maintain vigilance about our personal power as archivists and how this informs our professional practice. These are questions I will keep asking.
** Check out the great range of Midsumma events supported by Melbourne Libraries http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/libraries/whats-on/midsumma/Pages/midsumma.aspx