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Hello from LGBT@NYPL
Hello, all. Thank you for keeping an eye on what's going on at the LGBT initiative at The New York Public Library.
My name is Dennis Orlov, I am a 30-year old recent transplant from Portland, Oregon. I am fascinated by this city, its history, and its people, especially when it comes to the LGBT community. I am not a specialist on LGBT issues or history, neither am I a writer. I'm just an avid reader, trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the history of "my people."
As part of my volunteer experience at NYPL, I will take it upon myself to keep you up-to-date on the happenings, as well as dig through the gems of the collection and post some thoughts and observations here.
You may already know this, but the way NYPL's LGBT Collections came together was truly a communal happening. International Gay Information Center (IGIC), initially a committee of the Gay Activists Alliance, whose collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, newsletters, press releases, and ephemera related in any way to gay rights, history, or culture spanning from 1974 to 1989 (the story is that the materials had occupied two apartments, were growing exponentially, maintained by volunteers, and becomming quite a financial burden), was donated to The New York Public Library in 1989. That gift inspired donations by other organizations and individuals. ACT UP, Mattachine Society of New York, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Jonathan Ned Katz, Barbara Gittings, and Kay Tobin Lahusen, to name a few. Now, as one of the world’s most extensive collections of LGBT history, it is available to the public. Over 3,000 images from the collections have been digitized and are freely available in the Library’s Digital Gallery.
Speaking of the Digital Gallery, The Robert Giard Foundation has given NYPL its exclusive permission to digitize some of the images (currently 203) from Robert Giard’s Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, a two-decade project of photographing just that — over 600 gay and lesbian writers (playwrights, novelists, poets, and performance artists). Particular Voices can be enjoyed here.
What does this have to do with me? Well, it happens to be a great way to start navigating the LGBT literary accomplishments in general and NYPL’s LGBT offerings in particular. So, please join me in my humbly ambitious adventure as I explore the works of these authors, posting once a week for the next few months. Recommendations and comments are welcome. I think...
I will leave you with this gem of a poster from 1960 for Mattachine Society Inc. of New York.
Until next time,