Queer Archives Project

LGBTQ+: Our Commitment to Queer Intersectionality

“Where I come from, being ‘politically correct’ means using language that respects other people's oppression and wounds.” - Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Warriors

“Intersectionality is an analytic sensibility, a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power.” - KimberlĂ© Crenshaw, Washington Post Op Ed (September 24, 2015)

Our commitment to Queer intersectionality is rooted in an ethics of respect and a dedication to acknowledging and exploring the complicated connections between identities and power.  

We understand it is impossible to fully describe a community that is evolving and diverse, and our decision to use the acronym “LGBTQ+” was carefully made. In selecting this acronym we name categories that are now firmly rooted in Western cultures (e.g., lesbian, bisexual) and are used by many of our participants. We also acknowledge the many identities connected to Trans identities (Transgender, Transwoman, etc.), and we include “Queer” as a term that functions both as a shorthand for LGBTQ and also as a firm refusal to have a gender or sexual identity at all. Emergent categories are equally important to us, and our use of the plus sign is intended to incorporate current but less broadly familiar identities (e.g., “demisexual,” “agender”) while also signaling a welcome to future identities that have not yet widely emerged. 

Because there is no way to correctly represent the LGBTQ+ community, we can never be “right.” But we can be intentionally thoughtful, open-minded, flexible and aware. As we launch the Queer Archives Project--in a particular culture at a specific moment in time--that is our firm commitment.

Along with an attentiveness to the many shifting identities that exist under the rubric of Queer, the Queer Archives Project is predicated on an intersectional approach. We understand every experience of Queerness to be modulated and affected by other aspects of identity. For example, the experiences of gay men and lesbians are often transformed by the different ways gender affects their lives. The intersection of race with gender and sexuality means we must recognize how interlocking disadvantages of both sexism and systemic racial discrimination shape (for example) life as a Black Queer woman. An awareness of privileged identities such as whiteness, US citizenship, and middle/upper-class socioeconomic status can remind us to attend to how experiences of Queerness can be formed--and often cushioned--by structural forms of unearned advantage. 

We have committed to ensuring that many voices of Queer experience have shaped and will continue to shape the Queer Archives Project. In doing so, our hope is to move away from “group representation” or a check-list of identity categories towards a more sophisticated model: Lafayette’s Queer history must be continually self-reflective, and actively include the experience of Queers of all kinds, or that history will replicate the omissions and damages of the past. 

The Queer Archives Project is committed to staying actively attuned to differences, to the ways power flows through them, and to how Queer history is formed and reformed by their many intersections.


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