By: Lee Eubanks, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2018, History, Bloomington
The importance of collecting narratives from those who have experienced history can be summarized in this quote by Elizabeth J. Grace; “One elder is a whole library.”
As a Bicentennial intern working with the Bicentennial Oral History Project, my goal is to record the histories of IU alumni, faculty, and staff in the LGBTQ+ community in order to provide access to previously untold stories.
In light of a long history of marginalization, it is crucial to make the voices of LGBTQ+ elders heard.
As I worked on research for what would eventually become a timeline of queer history at IU, I spent a lot of time examining the various resources located at IU Archives.
During this time, I examined the available interview transcripts from the Bicentennial Oral History Project.
After looking through close to two hundred and fifty transcripts, I discovered only four that contained LGBTQ+ interviewees, and only ten that provided a sense of queer culture and life on IU’s campus.
In order to secure the possibility for future study of queer life at IU, I believed that it is necessary to create sources for research through interviewing LGBTQ+ alumni, retirees, and others associated with IU.
This experience led me to work directly with the Bicentennial Oral History Project where I plan to expand and diversify the existing collection, as well as making a new subject for research (LGBTQ+ history) more readily available at the IU Archives.
Working throughout the fall semester, I plan to utilize my prior research to discover interviewees who can reveal different facets of queer culture and history at IU through their varied experiences.
As I selected potential interviewees, I focused on those who had participated in significant moments of queer history, from protest and vigils to the institution of new standards and policies regarding LGBTQ+ life on campus. To ensure that I collected a breadth of topics, I focused on asking interviewees from each decade from 1970 to 2010.
In doing so, I can collect information on pivotal events at the beginning of the gay rights movement such as the formation of the Bloomington Gay Liberation Front and the first gay studies course taught at IU in the 1970s.
I also plan to interview members of IU’s first Gay and Lesbian People’s Union, OUT at IU, which was founded in 1987 to provide support and education for the GLBT community, engage in political and social actions for GLBT causes, and inform the wider Bloomington/IU community on GLBT issues.
I will also interview people whose histories are connected to the GLBT Student Support Services Office, having already completed an interview with its director, Doug Bauder. Established in 1994, the GLBT Office has played a crucial role in IU’s LGBTQ+ student life, providing a place for support, education, and collaboration.
During this interview, Doug recalled partnerships between the various cultural centers on IU’s campus. He highlighted the relationship between the GLBT Office and La Casa, next door neighbors who have worked together to host events welcome students to campus.
Once the interviews have been conducted, they will be catalogued and transcribed, then added to the collection at the IU Archives. The interviews will be available to the public for research, teaching, and personal interest.
For information about the creation of the GLBT Student Support Services Office, please visit: https://blogs.iu.edu/bicentennialblogs/2016/11/14/the-glbt-student-support-services-office-a-brief-history/