05.17.14 When Memory Fails
Jeremy Yamashiro, QOHP’s co-founder, sent me a link this morning to a Slate article originally published in The Georgia Review, written by Gerda Saunders. Gerda was a member of our advisory board in 2009 when we first started QOHP. With her years of teaching and publishing in the small but nationally renowned Gender Studies department at the University of Utah, we felt she was a natural fit for guiding our nascent project. Even with a tremendously busy schedule, Gerda always found time to help us when we asked for her input.
Her article is inspiring and beautifully illustrates the fragility of memory, personal narrative and the interconnectedness our stories have. We don’t know how or when our stories will end; but while we’re here and able, telling them is a powerful experience. Gerda, originally from South Africa, shares some intimate insights into dementia and aging—something most if not all of us will experience in our lifetimes.
While reading this article this morning, I had a swell of inspiration: it is SO important that we continue this project because those who were there, fighting the good fight at Stonewall or at the White Night Riots, or who had cared for dying friends during the AIDS plague, or who had fought in foreign wars as a closeted member of the military, or… or… or…
The time for us, as a community of LGBTQIA people, has come to collect the stories of those who had made it possible for this and future generations to live visibly, respectably, and as out and proud contributors to society. The unsung heroes need a song of their own!
Share your story or that of another through the Queer Oral History Project today! Help us record the memories of those who had made a lasting impact in your local community. Schedule a two-hour block of time with someone who’s story you want to archive. Set up a camera and have a simple conversation with them. Who are they? Where are they from? How did they come to know they were queer? Who had inspired them? What challenges did they face? How did they come out of the closet? What were their greatest victories or their most significant sacrifices? We will never know until we’ve created a time and place for them to tell us.