|A Legacy as Deep as the Ocean
|By Lisbet TellefsenTwo years ago, historian Amy Sueyoshi and I co-curated a special exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum called “Angela Davis: OUTspoken,” documenting the journey of Black lesbian activist, scholar, political prisoner and public intellectual Angela Davis. A major success in 2018, the exhibition is being released as an online exhibitionon the society’s website on August 10.
A Moral Center
At a moment when the concept of intersectionality is finally beginning to penetrate the mainstream, Angela Davis’s life is more relevant than ever. Davis was involved with Communist Party USA and the Black Power movement, and she’s still pushing the envelope around LGBTQ issues internationally, including places where it is not politically welcome. She is among the globe’s foremost philosophers on freedom and has always held the moral center. After a half-century, she has maintained the ability to communicate with remarkable clarity, even while engaging with complex issues of history and theory.
Amy and I focused the exhibition around the most graphically impactful political posters of Davis from my personal archives. I came to build this collection through my longtime love of graphic poster design — the intersection of graphics, propaganda, politics and messaging remain fascinating to me. I collected posters as a child, and growing up in Berkeley, political graphics were ubiquitous. In fact, one of my earliest jobs in high school was at The Print Mint, which was “ground zero” for psychedelic posters and early alternative comics. It was there that I learned to run a printing press, and I went on to run a print shop for the next 30 years.
Davis herself came to public prominence in the heyday of early reproductive graphics: after a full-page photograph of her appeared in Life magazine, artists around the world from Spain to the Soviet Union borrowed that image and repurposed it in different ways. Posters are very interesting media because while they are mass-produced, they still contain incredible original artwork. So when it came time to select posters for this exhibition, I chose those I felt were most impactful and represented significant ideas or events.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, unfortunately scuttled plans for the largest exhibition of my career, which was scheduled to open at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University this year, and in 2021 would have gone to the Oakland Museum of California. In fact, these institutions scouted material that I first displayed at the GLBT Historical Society Museum. So it’s gratifying that “OUTspoken” will now get a new lease on life. Davis’s five decades of activism and the legions of scholars she has mentored add up to a legacy as deep as the ocean. She’s a voice that we need to center right now.
Lisbet Tellefesen has been an archivist, collector and event producer in the Bay Area for more than three decades.
|Upcoming Online Events
|Living History DiscussionCompton’s and the Legacy of Police Violence
|Wednesday, August 56:00–7:30 p.m.Online programFree | $5.00 suggested donation
A watershed moment in LGBTQ history that was almost forgotten, the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot was rediscovered by researchers in the GLBT Historical Society’s archives decades later. This event, co-presented with the Tenderloin Museum, will commemorate the riot with a screening of Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman’s 2005 documentary Screaming Queens. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring historians, activists and Compton’s veterans who will reflect on the history of this uprising in light of the ongoing problem of police violence and consider how communities can mobilize in response. The event will also include discussion of the play The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, a 2018 theater piece commissioned by the Tenderloin Museum. Register online here.
|Panel/Workshop OrientationNo More Silence: Digital Community Histories of HIV/AIDS
|Tuesday, August 115:00–7:00 p.m.Online programFree | $5.00 suggested donation
No More Silence is an ongoing project of the University of California, San Francisco’s Archives and Special Collections. The project extracts text from digitized archival materials related to HIV/AIDS — including documents from individuals, activist and community-support organizations, medical institutions and government agencies—for use in digital-humanities projects, with the aim of bridging the gap between the empirical, scientific study of the disease and the lived experience of people with AIDS. UCSF has organized a three-part workshop from August 12 to 14 that introduces participants to basic computer-programming skills to perform work in digital history (no prior experience is necessary). Participants will apply these skills to historical documents in the collections of the UCSF archives and the GLBT Historical Society.
The workshop opens on August 11 at this joint event organized by the GLBT Historical Society and the UCSF Archives that provides an overview of the No More Silence project. A panel discussion will discuss the ways that archives and digital-humanities initiatives can support community-history efforts related to gender and sexual orientation, illuminating digital tools and techniques that can further uncover hidden narratives in these histories. The event will also serve as an orientation to the workshop, which begins the following day. More information on the workshop and registration is available here. Register for the August 11 event online here.
|Film ScreeningRevisiting Gay USA: A Community Experience
|Friday, August 216:00–8:00 p.m.Online programFree | $5.00 suggested donation
This event is a screening and discussion of Arthur J. Bressan Jr.’s groundbreaking 1977 documentary Gay USA, which vibrantly captured Gay Freedom Day marches and celebrations in June 1977 across the country. The film was beautifully restored in 2018 by the University of California, Los Angeles Film and Television Archive in collaboration with Frameline and Outfest. Film historian Jenni Olson, who guided the restoration of the film, and LGBTQ historian Don Romesburg, who co-curated the GLBT Historical Society’s online exhibition about the first decade of San Francisco Pride, will lead a conversation and Q & A session after the screening. The discussion will focus on the importance of documenting the history of Pride and encourage audience members to engage in their own community-history efforts by sharing their Pride stories and helping to identify unknown individuals depicted in the film. Register online here.
|WorkshopLeaving a Legacy: Archival Estate Planning
|Friday, August 2812:00–1:00 p.m.Online programFree
The items we collect and produce over a lifetime tell a unique story about who we are, what we value and the impact we have had over the course of our lives. The first event in a two-part series offering estate-planning tools and resources, this workshop focuses on how to prepare personal papers, photographs, objects, ephemera and other materials for possible donation to archives. Archivists at the GLBT Historical Society will share recommendations on preparing and organizing your personal archival materials and provide an overview of the considerations involved in intellectual-property transfer, focusing on areas of particular concern for LGBTQ people. This event will include a Q & A session for those who register in advance. Learn more about this series and how to plan for the future here. Register online here.
|WorkshopLeaving a Legacy: Financial Estate Planning
| Friday, September 412:00–1:00 p.m.Online program Free
Careful financial planning ensures that our legacies live on by providing for our spouses, partners, children, relatives and friends. The second event in our two-part series offering estate-planning tools and resources for LGBTQ people, this workshop focuses on a range of financial-planning strategies and instruments. Attorney Alma Soongi Beck will discuss wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, marriage and domestic partnership considerations, document language for nonbinary and transgender people, property tax and co-ownership issues for unmarried couples who are not domestic partners. This event will include a Q & A session for those who register in advance. Learn more about this series and how to plan for the future here. Register online here.
|Current Online Exhibitions
|Performance, Protest & Politics: The Art of Gilbert BakerExamine how rainbow-flag creator Gilbert Baker blurred the lines between artist and activist, protester and performer.
50 Years of PrideThis photography exhibition documents the evolution of San Francisco Pride, the event that most powerfully represents and celebrates the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community, over the past half century.
Labor of Love: The Birth of San Francisco PrideLearn how San Francisco forged the internationally renowned annual celebration that would come to be known as Pride.
AIDS Treatment Activism: A Bay Area StoryExplore the rise of and growth of the treatment-activism movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s and 1990s.