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‘De-Centering Stonewall’ celebrates history of local pride, archival efforts

The Mid-South LGBTQ+ Archive will host its kickoff event: De-Centering Stonewall: Exploring LGBTQ+ History Beyond the Stonewall Uprising this Friday, October 25 at the University Center.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York,” said Craig Stewart, associate professor of communication studies with the Department of Communication and Film. “That event is seen as the start of the modern gay rights movement. Meanwhile in 1969 Memphis, the first-ever Miss Gay Memphis Review Pageant was hosted at what is now the Evergreen Theater.”

The Miss Gay Memphis Review Pageant served as a big milestone for the LGBTQ+ community in Memphis and was the first pageant of its kind held in public in the Bluff City. The pageant had to be hosted around Halloween because of vice laws that prohibited people from dressing in clothes of the opposite gender.

“The goal for the day is to localize the larger LGBTQ+ movement,” said Robby Byrd, assistant professor with the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media. “So much attention is given to New York and the Stonewall Uprising that it is important that we recognize and discuss the efforts and strides made in other places, especially in the Deep South. So that’s where the name De-Centering Stonewall came from.”

The De-Centering Stonewall event will begin at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon with a roundtable of local LGBTQ+ historians and community members discussing the last 50 years of local LGBTQ+ history.  This portion was put together by queer historian Dr. Cookie Woolner in the Department of History. The roundtable discussion will be followed by a reception and keynote speaker Dr. Nikki Lane at 4 p.m. Lane, a cultural and linguistic anthropologist, will deliver a keynote address titled, “Throwing Shade on Pride: A Brief History of DC’s Black Pride.” After the keynote presentation, the archive, in conjunction with UofM’s Stonewall Tigers, will host “The Category Is . . . 1969-Now,” a drag show performance to commemorate the 1969 Miss Memphis Review.

This is the first event of the Mid-South LGBTQ+ Archive, which is part of the UofM’s LGBTQ+ Community of Researchers, which received a grant to begin the archive from the UofM Division of Research and Innovation.

The archive is held in the Ned McWherter Library, with the bulk of the initial materials being transferred from OUTMemphis’ archive over to UofM this past spring. OUTMemphis’ contribution now serves as the centerpiece to the archive, which is expected to grow in the near future.

In addition to Friday’s panel discussion, the student-led Stonewall Tigers recognizes Oct. 21-25 as LGBTQ+ Week and will host a slew of events including a kickoff carnival on the UC Lawn Monday afternoon and an open mic night Tuesday evening in the Meeman Journalism Auditorium.

For more information about this event, please contact the archive via Facebook or by email at lgbtqplus@memphis.edu.

Published inCollege of Communication and Fine ArtsDepartment of Communication & FilmDepartment of Journalism and Strategic MediaEvents

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