Cross posted at Body Impolitic
I haven’t written much in the past several weeks because I’ve been busy doing work on the Center for Sex and Culture Archives. I mentioned this work in a post before I started and it has been eating a good chunk of my life since then.
I said before that there was all sorts of good stuff in the archive. I had no idea. It has been amazing. I’ve found all sorts of things. I’ve found almost every sort of pornography you might imagine (unlike some law enforcement agencies, we have no child pornography). I’ve found letters to porn stars, letters to political organizations, letters letters letters! There are letters written from people who are completely alone in their sexuality and have just learned of an organization of like minded souls. These letters are the most touching.
I found a plaster cast of a very famous vulva. I found a piece of the leather that once covered Cynthia Slater’s bondage table, the one she’s standing behind in the Maplethorpe portrait of her.
All of this wonderful stuff is now reasonably safe. Most boxes are on shelves that will not collapse. I am starting to have a sense of where some neat things are, but the cataloging process will be long and difficult.
I don’t have much analysis to offer at this point. I am glad that these things have been saved. I am glad that we can look at these pieces of our history. I say our history in the broadest sense. This is not just queer history. This is not just kinky history. This is the history of brave thoughtful movements by people trying to escape the shame heaped on them by the dominant culture. In many ways, the history in these piles and piles of boxes is that of things, good and bad, that stoked the intellectual fires that drive endeavors like this blog.