Introducing the Queer View Mirror Oral History Project

archiving oral history / community-based oral history / gay history

The LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory is happy to announce the Queer View Mirror Oral History Project! A community-based oral history project led by long-time activist Ed Jackson, Queer View Mirror will focus on collecting oral histories from Toronto lesbian and gay activists involved in 1970s and 1980s activism. The Collaboratory is happy to provide Ed and his project with assistance and student support. Read on to learn more about this exciting project and what Ed hopes to capture in his Queer View Mirror.

Let’s start with your name, pronouns, and a fun fact about you.

My name is Ed Jackson (pronouns: he, him). Although I now have completely white hair and beard, I actually began to get silver dollar-sized patches in my beard as long ago as age 21.  White hair has since become a feature, not a bug, for me.

What is the Queer View Oral History Project?

The QVOHP is a focused project to interview a wide variety of lesbian/gay/trans/queer folks who were active in community organizing in Toronto and elsewhere, particularly in the 1970s and 80s.

Why is it important to you to seek out interviews with other gay and lesbian activists?

I am seeking interviews with other lesbian and gay activists and community members from this time period because (a) It was a period of great lesbian and gay activism across Canada, particularly in Toronto, but my sense is that in the current historical record only certain events from that period tend to get highlighted and the same individuals tend to get privileged and given a voice; and (b) many of these folks are getting on in years and may soon be unavailable for direct documentation of their lives and views.These decades were the core gay liberation and AIDS activist eras, which  have had important residual impacts on how queer politics and communities in Canada have evolved. I think some of the current interpretations of those times are sometimes too “presentist” in approach. These interviews will provide an important source of first-hand documentation of experiences that will be available to researchers and historians in the future.

What do you plan to do with the interviews once they’re collected?With Elspeth Brown’s guidance in terms of up-to-date archival recording keeping and collection, I will deposit the records in The ArQuives and, if a partnership between the two develops, also with the U of T Digital Archives.  I am indebted to Elspeth for her generosity in making her process knowledge and student support available (I’m talking Tomasz Glod here!).

What are you most looking forward to about the process of Queer View Mirror?

It will be fascinating to document the perspectives of older queers who lived through dramatic times but who now perhaps feel like time has passed them and their contributions by.  It will be fun to make contact with people I have not interacted with, in some cases, for decades.

Now I’ve got to get the first interviews under my belt!