Why am I doing this oral history project?
Well, a couple of years ago, I was painfully struck by the gaps between my generation (folks born in the 1970s) and prior generations and later generations. What I mean is, I was struck by how HIV and cancer had wiped out a whole bunch of LGBTQ artists of color who directly shaped my thinking. And I panicked. I cried and I panicked. So I said, well, what can I do to make sure that my elders are not forgotten? That their voices are not lost?
I decided to go with an oral history project. One, because I love to hear peoples' voices and laughs. Two, I remembered an interview from Barbara Smith's Homegirls and how hearing the way people talked, what they talked about and the kinds of connections they made directly influenced my thinking about how we pass on information. Three, I wanted something that could be used in multiple formats.
All of that said, this oral history project is an attempt to capture some of the worlds made up by LGBTQ artists of color.
As part of that, I think it's also important to set the context. It's 2006 and we are dealing with a full on global war against the poor, migrants (across all nations), women and queers. And in the United States country, the brunt of that is also borne by people of color. So, I was on youtube.com and I found the footage from the Breakthrough's public forum, "Why Can't America Have Human Rights?". This forum was held at The Riverside Church in New York City on September 14, 2006. The event, co-sponsored by 70 organizations, attracted 600 guests, including community members, students, and leaders. The speakers and performers were united in their platform— we must take a stand against abuses and create a much needed human rights movement in the United States.
Joo-Hyun Kang, a significant leader in the U.S. LGBTQ movement, made some important intersectional connections that I wanted to have here as background, not just to this project, but to my political grounding and why I'm doing this work. I believe art and cultural production are fundamental parts of constructing a society's thought, and memory. I also believe that there is a fundamental connection between a country's human rights record and the lives of LGBTQ artists of color survival rates.
Joo-Hyun Kang from Astraea
In addition, in 2007, I learned about tiona m.'s film where she interviews 50 black lesbians across the United States, asking them to talk about numerous questions. I am excited to see her film, and put a link up here in the hopes that she'll get additional support to finalize the film and put it out in the world. Here's a clip, where she interviews filmmaker/artist Michelle Parkerson about the process of making her documentary "A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde"
There's more information about her on her blogspot: http://www.blackwomynconversations.blogspot.com/