IT’S been a big few weeks for the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives, which recently held its annual Homosexual Histories Conference and celebrated 35 years since the archives began.
The conference featured a keynote speech from renowned Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell, who spoke about her life working with and as part of Australia’s LGBTI communities.
“She did an interesting survey of her life and her political work, beginning at a sort of new leftie in the 60s through till interesting stuff going on at the moment in terms of gender and sexuality,” said AGLA spokesman Dr Graham Willett.
He said that over the years, the conference has become a mix of academic scholarship and community-based historians, with each group bringing something unique.
“There was quite a nice little history being done on the Northern Rivers of NSW region, and that’s probably not something that an academic’s ever going to do but it’s really invaluable history,” he said.
Dr Willett used the 35th birthday celebrations as a chance to reflect on how AGLA has changed and grown over the years. He said while the focus in the past was on collecting and preserving material for the archive, its growing profile has given them the opportunity to showcase Australia’s LGBTI history.
“We’ve also moved in the last ten years or so into celebrating that history,” he said.
“That’s why we had the conference in the first place — we knew that there were people doing history and we wanted to start to get them together.”