by Fred Kuhr
A new exhibition will highlight the history and diversity of LGBT and queer publications produced in Northern California from the 1940s through the 2000s. "Empowerment in Print: LGBTQ Activism, Pride and Lust " draws on the collection of more than 5,000 periodical titles preserved in the archives of the San Francisco-based GLBT Historical Society.
"From sober to sleek, from coy to explicit, from apolitical to militant, these publications demonstrate some of the myriad ways LGBTQ people have found empowerment in print," according to co-curators Joanna Black and Jeremy Prince. "The exhibition celebrates the important role San Francisco and our wider region have played in the creation of queer periodicals."
With one title on display for each letter of the alphabet, the show looks to reflect “queer people from diverse communities using periodicals to form social networks, create culture, express desire and inspire activism.” The publications in the exhibit — many of them graphic — “offer a distinctive window into the intersectional identities, culture and politics of LGBTQ people at the high point of print periodicals as a means of mass communication.”
The exhibit starts with scarce private newsletters from the 1940s, when homosexuality was the object of legal and social persecution. It also displays pioneering American homophile movement journals from the 1950s, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court overtuned the ban on mailing periodicals defending homosexual people 60 years ago this year.
The show then offers a selection of the periodicals that emerged as the movement grew in size and force and as commercial publications reached paying subscribers in the 1960s and 1970s. The periodicals on display also suggest the array of issues represented in publications from the 1980s into the 2000s and some of the ways that zine-makers have created alternatives to mainstream LGBT publications.
The exhibition includes periodicals from the Northern California cities including Albany, Berkeley, Fremont, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Union City.
"Empowerment in Print" runs through May 21, 2018, at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco. For more information, visit www.glbthistory.org.
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