The B .C. Gay and Lesbian Archives was founded in 1976 with the task of collecting, preserving and making accessible research materials about the lives of British Columbia gay, lesbian, bisexual, trangendered and intersexual persons. Since it began, the collection has grown to over three-quarters of a million items.
It is crucial to document the ongoing evolution of the queer community, especially for earlier times when institutional media refused to print stories with obvious gay content, and when most gays and lesbians exercised protective anonymity to survive,” said Ron Dutton, archivist for the B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives.
Materials within the archives cover all subjects, beginning with the first European descriptions of Two-spirited persons on the North West Coast in the mid-1700s, to contemporary issues, organizations and activities.
According to Dutton, special effort is made to ensure inclusion of groups that the white, male-dominated urban gay media may under-report, such as women, ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, rural and small town dwellers, seniors and youth.
Materials are organized under hundreds of subject headings that cover everything from sports, health, sexual behavior, the arts, legal issues, the justice system, government policies and practices, social and economic issues, gay-owned businesses, family life, and biographical information – to name only a few.
The archives contain everything from file copies of British Columbia gay media newspapers, magazines and association newsletters, posters advertising LGBTQ events, government reports, academic research reports and theses, personal papers such as diaries and photo albums plus a myriad of material such as photographs, video-cassettes, books, CDs and DVDs.
Most frequently used by academic researchers as well as university students in gender studies programs, the archives are also a resource for the media, cultural workers such as authors and filmmakers, gay organizations, and the general public seeking biographical or legal information.
“No archives is ever complete,” concluded Dutton in a request for additional materials. “If you have any material that illustrates our collective past or present, and that you wish to see preserved please contact me [see details below]”.
B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives
The Archives is located in Vancouver’s West End. Materials can be examined by appointment by calling Ron Dutton at 604-669-5978, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. If desired, anonymity will be respected.