“That is a great story. You should be writing that down.”
“But who would want to read it? It is like ancient history now.”
What isn’t always appreciated is that our small contribution to history is relevant and helps create a bigger picture.
I believe that we are obligated to leave a record of our journeys for history, for those in future generations who might want to understand how their homosexual freedoms had been worth fighting for. Yes, the big stories of that fight are being collected, but what of the stories of individuals? Of the gay farmer in outback Australia, of the immigrant who was shunned because of his cultural identity, of the men who partnered after leaving their wives and children. These are the individual stories that form the tapestry of who we became as a national queer community.
Scholars in the U.S. recently researching U.S. gay soldier experiences during WWII found little in the way of written remembrances, even though it was the very beginnings of gay men discovering the nation-wide existence of other gay men.
Think of what you could have asked that late uncle who never married or that aunt who lived her life with a ‘companion’. Their answer would have put into perspective that nagging question of whether you were the first or only queer in your family history.
Now is a timely opportunity to write down for posterity a little about our lives. You don’t have to write a book, but some detailed paragraphs about important pivotal events would be good – where and when you came out to others, how you set up a new lifestyle that was relevant to you, how you met partners, how you loved, how you overcame adversity and discrimination, your jubilation at gay legality happening, the funny things that you shared, what gave you hope.
Share this finished document with friends, being sure to also share it with gay archive groups, local history groups, and family (if relevant). File it until after your death if you feel that its existence and circulation are currently too confronting.
It’s our history that needs writing – NOW! And if you find writing difficult, then use your phone to record a few short memory videos about specific events in your life. Oral histories are just as valuable – and you can do it direct-to-camera anywhere, anytime without anyone else knowing. Begin today!