03.17.14 How I Got Involved with QOHP
I’m Jed, the Administrative Director. I got involved with the project last year. Here’s how and why. I’ve been interested in queer history almost as long as I can remember. I grew up in a rural part of Maine and I always knew I was gay, and that there were others out there in the wide world. When I turned 18 I moved to the city to find them and to go to college. Boston has always been a quiet (lately not-so-quiet!) hotbed of queer activism, so it wasn’t long before I got involved, in the middle of the AIDS crisis in the late 1980’s. Since then, I’ve spent my life working in the arts and in queer health. I’ve been lucky enough to spend most of my time surrounded by queer folks.
Fast forward a few decades: I’m now living in San Francisco. My friend David mentions this project of his, and I immediately want to get involved. He and I have a few meetings (in spring 2013) and we’re both incredibly excited about the possibilities this project has to offer. After a short “pilot” in June 2013, we’ve spent the past year re-thinking and designing the site and looking at our organizational capacity and goals.
I love stories about local watering-holes, meeting-places, events, people, and relationships, and the tradition of oral histories as a way to pass on your history and culture. The lesser-known details of queer history have always fascinated me. Start asking a few questions and before long you’ll find that many people have that “spinster great-aunt” or that cousin that never married and lived with his “pal” all his life. You might learn that someone you see every day helped to make history.
We all have stories to tell, and QOHP is a chance for both well-known and everyday people to have their stories both heard and seen. The project is a way for us queers to build our historical record as we are making and experiencing historical events and cultural shifts, by directly hearing from the people involved. It’s also helping us recognize and remember parts of queer culture that are fading from our collective memory. The richness and variety of recurrent themes in these stories is living evidence of our specific culture. We want QOHP to be as accessible as possible, especially for those somewhat isolated from queer culture (people in rural areas, those who may not be “out” as LGBT, or those with questions about what it’s like to lead a queer life. It is our hope that the project will be especially useful to those who seek stories similar to their own. Eventually, we’d also like to add a teaching curriculum, with workshops on video and documentary skills, but also sessions about raising awareness and learning about queer lives.
I’m tremendously excited about this project. Each time I talk about it with staff and others, I find myself coming up with new ideas. We’re really proud of what we’re doing. We hope you will love the site as much as we do. Please get involved!