Voices of LGBTQ Pioneers Now Available on USC Digital Library

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18/14

Activist W. Dorr Legg with ONE Incorporated staff in 1957 or 1958

Thanks to a generous grant from The GRAMMY Foundation®, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries recently preserved and digitized nearly 200 hours of audio recordings from early LGBTQ activists, researchers, and other pioneers. The recordings are now available via the USC Digital Library.

ONE Archivist Loni Shibuyama, who led the project, writes that the the one-of-a-kind recordings capture "the voices of LGBTQ pioneers like Harry Hay, Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, Hal Call, and Antony Grey; and allies like Harry Benjamin, Evelyn Hooker, and Adele Starr."

She continues,

From 1955 through the 1980s, ONE Incorporated held hundreds of public programs, such as its monthly speaker series and Midwinter Institutes, providing a forum for the LGBTQ community to discuss civil rights, education, police relations, religion, literature, culture, and LGBT experience. Thankfully, many of these talks were recorded by the organization’s dedicated volunteers. Now, for the first time since these programs were recorded, you can listen to psychiatrist Blanche Baker in 1955 giving one of the earliest public speeches against the listing of homosexuality as a mental illness. You can hear the notorious Fred Halsted talk in 1976 about producing his experimental films in the leather community. You can hear what went on at a 1961 gathering of The Big Three—representatives from ONE Inc., Mattachine Society, and Daughters of Bilitis—bringing together the greatest LGBTQ groups of the era to discuss the first ever “Homosexual Bill of Rights.”

In addition, this project helps preserve interviews with numerous LGBTQ people, including gay composer Lou Harrison and several activists in the campaign against the 1986 LaRouche initiative to quarantine people living with HIV/AIDS. Also digitized are recordings of 1970s conferences on transgender health sponsored by the Erickson Educational Foundation, including talks from the first ever International Symposium on Gender Identity (today known as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Symposium.)

ONE would like to thank volunteer Jennifer Darwent and Deb Simone, the folks at George Blood Audio and Video, and The GRAMMY Foundation® for their generous support in making these never before heard recordings available for public research.

You can listen to all of the early ONE Archives recordings here. Visit Shibuyama's article for the ONE website for intriguing quotes and photographs of early activists and other ONE speakers.

With funding generously provided by The Recording Academy, The GRAMMY Foundation® awards grants each year to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the music and recorded sound heritage of North America for future generations, and research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition. Learn more about the most recent grant recipients here.

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