Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s zine commemorating Florida queer history to be released at upcoming fundraiser.

A member of the Florida Queer History Project’s fieldwork team interviews an Equality March attendee in June 2017. Photo by Andrea Cornejo courtesy of Robert Baez.

Queer folk and allies alike took to the streets for a national Equality March for Unity and Pride to affirm and protect the rights of the LGBT community, and resist institutional and social oppression. For the weekend, D.C. was no longer Trump’s city.

Among the protesters was a fieldwork group from the Florida Queer History Project, a branch of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program that seeks to compile, record and transcribe queer history with the goal of broadening historical knowledge. The group traveled to D.C. in collaboration with the UF Center for Gender and Sexualities and Women’s Studies. 

Together, their mission was to understand the climate among queer people in the U.S., particularly after the inauguration of the current president.

The charged atmosphere that weekend in June compelled the group to turn their observations into a creative, community-centered vessel: A zine that will be released on Oct. 15 at First Magnitude as part of SPOHP’s benefit event “Florida Queer History: A Pride Extravaganza.”

Co-coordinator Holland Hall said the zine will feature creative submissions from queer folk in Gainesville alongside interviews and portraits collected at the Equality March in D.C.

“We want to take what we learned and what we saw in D.C. and bring that to conversations happening both within the UF community and in Gainesville,” she said.

Robert Baez, the Florida Queer History Project’s co-coordinator, said the zine will be a way for queer folk in Gainesville to connect and organize. 

“Zines have been a really great tool for organizing—a lot of feminist organizations have used zines and queer organizations have also used zines,” Baez said. “We by no means are creating the idea of a zine. We’re following in the footsteps of people who have come before us and paved the way for us to do what we’re doing.”

Hall emphasized the zine is a product of the Gainesville public and is not part of the University of Florida’s “ivory tower.” 

“We want our work to be really accessible to people, and we want people to have the ability to contribute too,” she said. “It’s all to highlight the community.”

It was also important for the coordinators that the zine include a diverse range of narratives as certain experiences have historically received more attention in the queer community than others. 

“Queer history is so vast, but I can definitely talk in terms of where we are coming from and what our intentions are,” Baez said. “White, gay men control the narrative of what queer history is, and in starting this project we wanted to pay attention to the people that may be in the margins.”

This ethos extends to the Pride Extravaganza, which will highlight local queer performers and musicians, like Mx. Bubblés, a drag performer.

“As a rising drag performer I try to take any opportunities I can,” Mx. Bubblés said. “And as a queer person I want to contribute to the community. I think the event is giving a space for new performers to get experience.”

“We want our work to be really accessible to people, and we want people to have the ability to contribute too. It’s all to highlight the community.”

Hall said the event will also include a resource fair for LGBT-affirming businesses and community allies.

“We want those organizations and businesses to represent how many various identities are within the community—there are so many intersections,” she said. 

The event’s goal is to open spaces for queer Gainesville of the present and expand its future possibilities by fundraising for the Florida Queer History Project.

“Robert and I are only going to be in the program and at UF for so long,” Hall said. “We wanted this to be ongoing because it adds to queer visibility on campus and gives people a chance to be involved.”

The project’s goal is to affirm queer folk in Gainesville while expanding and creating opportunities for growth and community development.

“We wanted to use this space as a way to tell stories and experiences that you may not often hear,” Baez said. “That’s how we view queer history: Being queer is not one thing. It’s many experiences, and we really set out to capture what those experiences are.” •

More information about the Pride Extravaganza can be found at the Facebook event here