In May the local Charlotte Queer history timeline traveled to Salisbury, NC for display in their Pride festival. Salisbury Pride is one of the best small town Pride’s I have been too and the organizers really wanted to bring local history to their town. We took the timeline and put it on display in the downtown business district of Salisbury where everyone could see it. In a beautiful bit of irony the timeline was housed across the street from the mayor’s office (the mayor has refused to sign a proclamation supporting Pride for several years) and I like to think that each day he had to see it on his way to meetings. By the end of their monthly celebration over 4100 people had seen the timeline and had the opportunity to talk about what Southern Queer history looked like.
This is the power of keeping our history local and learning who we are and what we have done. Those 4100 people got an opportunity to see the Queer South in a different way and we hope to inspire Salisbury to collect its own history so we can display it next year. The fire of local Queer history is spreading even faster than I have imagined and having seen how it ignites passion in Queer people both old and young, I am even more inspired to see the project expand.
I was so honored to have been given the Harvey Milk Award this year by Charlotte Pride for my work with the archive. What means the most to me is having people come up to me and tell me how thrilled they are to know that it is here. I had several young people ask me what was in it, with that same look of anticipation that people have on Christmas morning. What I tell them is this; the archive holds our past and points to our future. Now that we know what we have already done there is no limit to what we can accomplish together!