Reprinted with permission from History Happens, the newsletter of the GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco)” with a link to our website (www.glbthistory.org).
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Achémagazine, a free journal and community organization for, by and about black lesbians that I cofounded with Pippa Fleming. The GLBT Historical Society’s archives preserve a full run of Aché, which was published from 1989 to 1993.
Reflecting on the magazine after three decades, I’m struck by the outsized impact it’s had. Over its four-year run, Aché morphed quite a bit. In the beginning, it featured artwork, poetry and a calendar of events, and was less of a literary journal. It quickly became apparent that we struck a chord in the community, and people started contributing work. Writers contributed short stories, and organizers used our pages to reach a wide audience.
The years we were active were in many ways to black gay culture what the Harlem Renaissance was to African American culture. There was so much happening in our community: in politics, art, the literary world and organizing. As Aché was an integral communication vehicle, it served as an important nexus for all things black and gay. The journal developed a following in upwards of 12 countries and published over 200 artists and writers, most of whom had never before appeared in print. Scholars and researchers examining the journal today in an exploding age of instant communication and social media won’t be able to help noticing that it’s dated; it’s a time capsule of the golden era of bitmap printing. But you can go to the back page and see what kind of organizations and support groups existed in the early 1990s and you can peruse the artwork produced by the artists we invited. The magazine charts the development of our aesthetic.
Whether it’s organizing, culture or art you’re interested in, there’s something in Aché that can be illuminating today. At a 30th-anniversary event held this past month, I had people come up to me and say that Aché changed their life in some way, which was a phenomenal feeling. To think that a project I devoted an intense chapter of my life to is going to be preserved 50 years from now is remarkable.
Lisbet Tellefsen has been an archivist, collector and event producer in the Bay Area for more than three decades.