Tag Archives: Pride Student Union

TRANSforming the Stacks

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***Trigger Warning: trans slurs/derogatory terms***

 

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Kacee Reguera (she/her/hers)

 

Our first submission is from Kacee Reguera, a recently-graduated student worker, who has been with Special collections for 2 years. While this project was geared towards the full-time staff, I chose to highlight her contribution first because I’m happy to see this conversation being engaged with by everyone in the community. Getting students involved in this process ensures that the conversation continues in the next generation of professionals.

 

 

The object she found is How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day by Lee Krist, which is an unbound letterpress-printed artists’ book by a transgender man that describes the author’s transition and coming out story through postcards addressed to his mother and other ephemera. It is a very intimate story meant to bring us into his gender and family experience in a personal way. When students interact with it, they report feeling as though they’re digging through a collection of personal memories, like an act of voyeurism. This book was published in 2013, making it fairly recent.

 

Video Excerpt of How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day by Lee Krist, 2013

Though How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day is an amazing book that is well designed and a beautifully told story, and I’m excited for the opportunity to share the text here, it does not qualify for the challenge I initially raised. This project is geared towards highlighting queer and trans BIPOC voices, which are sorely lacking in FSU Special Collections and Archives. Kacee’s efforts to provide an example, though not exactly what I was looking for, both demonstrates this lack and creates an opportunity to explore problems in subject headings for these materials. 

Keeping in mind that this is a queer and trans-focused project, it is important that we also recognize history. Black and Latinx trans women were at the forefront of the fight for queer rights. Aside from throwing the first brick, which is still a point of contention, BIPOC trans individuals were at the apex of the queer rights movement and that is something that all institutions must acknowledge and recognize when collecting these histories. As FSU’s Pride Union was founded the same year as the start of the Stonewall Riots, I feel that this holds especially true for us. Out of the three titles that appear when you search the term “transgender,” none of them are by queer or trans people of color. Equitability and accessibility must be taken into consideration at all library levels, from acquisitions to cataloging.

Reina Gossett: Historical Erasure as Violence from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day is a great text and has been very useful in giving some insight into the trans experience. Many in our library commonly pick it when they want LGBTQ+ related materials. However, when I looked at the catalog record for it, I discovered outdated and now offensive terms are found in the “Subjects, general” section of the entry. I don’t have a libraries degree (yet), and I have only been working with Special Collections for a year, but it blew my mind that these derogatory terms made it into a catalog record for a book published this decade. After ranting to my roommate for 30 minutes on the impact of white supremacy in library settings, I wanted to know where these terms came from. 

In order to unpack these issues, a little background is needed, and I thought I’d share what I discovered in the process of my research. 

LOCSH (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS SUBJECT HEADINGS):

Subject Headings for How to Transition on 63 cents a Day

In an attempt to standardize the organization and classification of information, the Library of Congress developed a list of terms to be referenced and used when creating records for materials. This list is one of the banks that institutions may pull search terms from when intaking materials into their system. Terms were chosen based on what they thought the ‘average patron’ would search to find materials about a certain topic… 

Take a guess what the ‘average patron’ looked like to these information gatekeepers. Search headings for identity groups were, it seems, determined by what they thought a cisgender heterosexual affluent white christian male would search to find it. The record for How to Transition on 60 Cents a Day is evidence of this historical practice. The thing that’s particularly cruel about this is queer and trans people (or any marginalized person for that matter) has to comb through slurs and strife to even look at their own history.

Click here for the article I referenced for this section.

HOW DO LIBRARY OF CONGRESS SUBJECT HEADINGS GET INTO CATALOG RECORDS?:

Just because a subject heading exists does not mean institutions are required to adhere to them. Cataloging decisions and methodologies are governed by best practices, but the ultimate decision lies within the jurisdiction of the institution. In the next blog post in this series, I will be exploring current/best practices and the ways they perpetuate outdated/derogatory terminology. I especially want to take a look at copy cataloging as a practice, and how we can/will intervene when a copied record contains terminology that needs to be addressed.

Quick queer and trans history:

A quick overview of queer history:

A cursory overview of trans history:

 

LGBTQ+ in Rare Books and Manuscripts: A Pride Month Project Becomes a Blog Series!

Hello! My name is Gino Romero.

Gino Photo
Photo of Gino Romero (They/Them, Elle/Ellx)

I am a queer non-binary artist, researcher, and the Rare Books Assistant in Special Collections and Archives. My research deals with queerness, highlighting the erasure of queer history, primarily focusing on people of color. As an undergrad, trying to do research in this topic with no formal training in research proved to be next to impossible. I leaned on my professors for resources, but these results were not so fruitful. Later that year, we went to Special Collections and Archives to look at artists’ books and before the class started, a librarian helped us look through the catalog and find topics we were interested in. I shouted out “LGBTQ+ History!”: no results. We tried just “LGBT”: no results! We tried dozens of configurations until we found results, but even then, it wasn’t guaranteed that they would actually be of use to my research. 

As a student, it was comforting to know that it wasn’t just me, that the institution was also struggling to find these histories. But as a researcher, I was frustrated beyond reason. I wondered why it’s so hard to find these histories. Now I work in Special Collections and Archives, and I wonder what my fellow coworkers and I can do to fix this? I began asking these questions to my colleagues and decided to make it into a project.

LGBT Search
Image – “0 matching items” for “LGBT” or “LGBTQ”

We often think that libraries are neutral, that they are solely a source of information for Rainbow Pull Quotepeople to come and formulate their own opinions on the matter. Librarians are human; personal biases always creep into the work, often to the detriment of marginalized populations. Libraries are sites of power, organizing, labeling, and delivering information in ways that affect cultural beliefs and understanding on institutional, national, and even global scales. It is important that we take the time to acknowledge that power and privilege, and that the discipline evolves out of (perhaps comfortable) old practices that contribute to systems of bigotry, oppression, and white supremacy

Librarians are tasked with the role of making information discoverable and available. They have the ability to place subject headings and search terms on materials, are involved in the acquisition of materials, and even contribute to what is taught in the classroom. These factors, among many others, put libraries in a unique position of power, as gatekeepers of information. 

The project – asking my colleagues to engage with queer histories in archives

For Pride month, I tasked my fellow coworkers with taking a moment to reflect on our role in the distribution and accessibility of information relating to LGBTQ+ history. I asked them to look into our catalogs in order to find materials, to experience what it’s like to be a queer researcher in our institution. The rules for the search were to prioritize the following: 

  • LGBTQ+ people of color
  • Materials outside of the Pride Student Union collection (These institutional records don’t represent intentional acquisition, and while valuable records of queer life on campus, don’t tell the story of underrepresentation on a larger scale.)
  • Stories that do not relate to LGBTQ+ struggles/hardships (Look for stories that highlight queer joy/culture!)

I asked my colleagues to submit a write up of their findings, describing why they chose that object, and what their experience was like in the shoes of a queer researcher. I will curate these submissions and blog about them on a biweekly basis, in hopes that this conversation will continue past Pride month and help create sustainable change.

I’m happy that this Pride Month work is turning into a blog series! In addition to sharing my colleagues’ findings, I hope to interview librarians and scholars who study representation in the archives. Be sure to check out the next post (hoping for a biweekly schedule), where I plan to include some of the discovered materials and describe the challenges my colleagues reported in their search process. 

In addition to this prompt, I also sent my colleagues some LGBTQ+ resources that I would like to share here as well:

Other institutions have been researching and working towards a solution for this issue as well. UNC has created a conscious editing initiative to repair and fix any harmful/outdated language in their catalog

Whether we follow the lead of other institutions or create a new program entirely just for FSU, it is important to take the time to acknowledge the power information holds and to make sure that we are doing our part to make it accurate, available, and equitable.

Andrea Gibson and Pride Month at FSU

Happy Pride Month, Noles! This month, people across the world are commemorating the Stonewall riots of 1969 by rejoicing in the wide spectrum of gender identities and sexual preferences represented in humankind.

To celebrate, I went digging for poetry in our Pride Student Union Records, part of the Heritage and University Archives. I came across evidence of FSU’s past celebrations of Pride month (June) and LGBT History month (October, as National Coming Out Day is October 11th).

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Pride Month poster from the past

Additionally, I found this poster signed by Andrea Gibson, poet extraordinaire and LGBTQ+ activist, who visited and performed at Florida State University in April of 2012.

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Andrea Gibson poster, signed

Gibson is brilliant enough on paper, but their pieces are best consumed aurally, as the FSU students in 2012 had a chance to do; YouTube videos, fortunately, abound! Here is the love poem “Maybe I Need You”:


Andrea’s voice is one of hope and community, reminding readers and listeners that they are not alone in their feelings or experiences. I leave you with another example of Andrea’s stirring work, which pairs poetry to music and creates a moving, motivating portrait of a young person discovering who they are and who they want to be.

Check out FSU’s Pride Student Union, still in action since its beginning back in 1969 and still hosting on-campus events: http://sga.fsu.edu/pride.shtml 

And to you and yours: HAPPY PRIDE!

Illuminations: Highlights from Special Collections & Archives

IlluminationsPoster

While this blog serves as a running feature of highlights from Special Collections & Archives, our newest exhibit makes the materials we talk about online available for the public to see in person. Illuminations the exhibit features items from our manuscript and rare books collections, Heritage & University Archives, and the Claude Pepper Library. Come and see new acquisitions like the Joseph Tobias PapersPride Student Union Records, Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection, and more.

Illuminations: Highlights from Special Collections & Archives will be on display through the fall semester in Strozier Library’s first floor exhibit space Monday-Friday 10am to 6pm.

New Collection: The Pride Student Union Records, 1964-2015

2012queerodyssey015We are excited to announce our most recently processed collection, the Pride Student Union Records, 1964-2015. Now a major fixture in the Student Government Association, the collection documents Pride’s predecessor organizations and their steps towards becoming an official agency, introducing non-discrimination policies on campus, and empowering FSU’s LGBTQ+ population.

In 1969, gay and lesbians in Tallahassee organized the People’s Coalition for Gay Rights, which later became the Alliance for Gay Awareness, as a response to the Stonewall Riots. The group was primarily a political organization active in the gay rights movement of the 1970s. In 1973, staff of the University Mental Health Center (now the Student Counseling Center) formed Gay Peer Counseling to provide support and counseling for gays and lesbian students. It became the most active LGBTQ+ group on campus in the early 1970s. In 1978, the group evolved into the Gay Peer Volunteers (GPV), which provided students opportunities for services in the community outside of the counseling environment. To include all students directly served by this student organization, the Gay Peer Volunteers changed its name to the Gay/Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) in 1989, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Student Union (LGBSU) in 1994, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Student Union (LGBTSU) in 1998, and finally Pride Student Union in 2005.

dragwarsThere are several other auxiliary groups at FSU that have served the LGBTQ+ population. In 1984, Gay/Lesbian Support Services formed to continue and expand upon the goals and services of the preceding organizations.  In the 1990s, a specialist in student counseling continued the mission of GPV by founding Gay and Lesbian Allies (GALA), which was later absorbed by Tallahassee LGBTQ+ community center, Family Tree. Safe Zone-Tallahassee was founded in 1997 as a response to FSU administration to fund an LGBTQ+ committee or office space. In 2012, Safe Zone was revamped into Seminole Allies & Safe Zones, and provides workshops to students, faculty, and staff.

The collection contains administrative records, promotional materials, artwork and banners, newspapers, and journal and magazine clippings produced and collected by the organization since the late 1960s. Spanning from meeting minutes to posters for drag shows, protest banners and queer literature, the Pride Student Union Records provide a varied look at the voices of the LGBTQ+ community in Tallahassee.

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

Processing With Pride: Processing The Pride Student Union Collection

FSU Heritage Protocol & University Archives, a division of Special Collections & Archives received a donation from The Pride Student Union in June 2013. The donation included over five decades of history from this student organization. The history between FSU and Pride is a story of a brittle, sometimes broken relationship, but the passing of their records from Pride to Heritage Protocol & University Archives documents how much the relationship has massively improved.

HPUA_2013-0607 Pride Student Union Collection
HPUA_2013-0607 Pride Student Union Collection

Before the records were relocated to Heritage Protocol & University Archives, they were “sitting idle & unorganized in four file cabinets,” said former Pride Student Union Secretary Jason Miller. Now the fifty plus years of history is in its final stages of processing (archives jargon for arranging, organizing and sorting a collection) and is almost ready for public viewing.

As the processor of this collection, along with former Graduate Assistants Rebecca Bramlett (until July 2015) and Katherine Hoarn (until August 2015), I can tell you that not only has it been a complete joy to organize and arrange this history, but it has also been an educational and eye-opening experience.

This is the history of not only The Pride Student Union, which had undergone eight name changes since their formation in the late 1960s, but the history of FSU. As Jason Miller stated in a 2013 article with FSUNews news editor Blair Stokes,

“What it comes down to is making sure students at Florida State know that our history is part of Florida State’s history. Even though we aren’t the majority, we’ve always been here. Our history needs to be preserved and understood for future generations to appreciate.”

Appreciation, scholarship, stewardship and respect for the history of this student organization and their records is the way I’ve approached organizing and processing this collection. The Pride Student Union Collection contains administrative records, correspondence, events, legislation, activism, photographs, promotional materials, newspaper, journal and magazine clippings produced and collected by the student organization since the late 1960s. The collection is arranged chronologically and includes issues that affected the student organization, local LGBTQ+ organizations and the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and throughout the United States.HPUA_2013-0607 Pride Student Union Collection Addendum

I cannot say enough how much of a joy and honor processing this collection has been and how much I’ve learned both professionally and personally from this experience.

Keep up with Heritage Protocol & University Archives and the Special Collections & Archives Division to see the final collection.

The Pride Student Union is going strong here at FSU and still striving to provide a safe and healthy environment for all students.

 

October is LGBT History Month

October is LGBT History Month which gives us all the opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and its history around the Tallahassee and right here at Florida State University. LGBT History Month began in 1994 when Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher who believed that a month should be dedicated to teaching the history of the gay and lesbian community. He organized teachers and community leaders where they picked the month of October because public schools were in session and existing traditions (such as National Coming Out Day on October 11th) already occurred during October.

Gay & Lesbian History Month was recognized and endorsed by a number of national organizations including: GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, National Education Association and others. By 2006 the Equality Forum took over the responsibility for providing content, promotion, and resources for LGBT History Month.

FSU Special Collections is currently processing the records of FSU’s Pride Student Union. The collection is part of FSU Special Collections Heritage Protocol & University Archives. This collection shows the rich history of members of the LGBTQ+ community in Tallahassee and at FSU fighting for their civil rights as members of this community and as students fighting to be recognized as a student organization by the Student Government Association.

This year has been an effective year for positive change though there’s still so much more work and education that needs to be done. So far 2015 has brought increased awareness to transgender visibility (though #KeishaJenkins has become the 18th transgender woman of color killed in the United States this year). The Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing nationwide marriage equality earlier this year. For the second time ever (EVER!) the White House held a briefing on challenges facing bisexual people.

Research shows that incorporating LGBT history into our curriculum and conversations contributes to a safer environment for LGBTQ+ students.

There are a number of events you can attend this month right here at FSU to show your support!

Now go learn some history!