As a “collaboratory,” this team-based project creates a virtual working space where members come together to share work, ideas, and new knowledge about the creation of LGBTQ oral histories in the digital age. Our team members are specialists in LGBTQ history, trans studies, and oral history, as well as key personnel in LGBTQ archives in Canada and the U.S.


Elspeth Brown
Principal Investigator

Elspeth Brown HeadshotElspeth H. Brown is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto and former Director of the Centre for the Study of the United States (2006–13). Her research focuses on the history of photography, gender, sexuality, and commercial culture in the 20th-century United States, with a specific interest in the historical relationship between visuality and subject formation. She has received fellowships from the Getty Research Institute; the National Museum of American History; the American Council of Learned Societies; the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the Library of Congress Kluge Center; the American Philosophical Society, and others. She is the author of award-winning The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Johns Hopkins 2005) and is co-editor of Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (Palgrave, 2006). Her most recent publication, Feeling Photography, is a co-edited book published by Duke University Press in March, 2014. With Sara Davidmann and Bruno Cechel, she co-edited a special issue of Photography and Culture entitled “Queering Photography” in 2014. She is currently working on two main projects: a queer history of the modeling industry in the U.S. (under contract with Duke University Press); and this collaborative digital oral history project on U.S. and Canadian LGBTQ history.

Additionally, she publishes at blog at

Photograph: Nicolett Jakab Photography

Raegan Swanson

Raegan serves as the Executive Director of The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ Archive.  She holds a BA from Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface and a Masters of Information from the University of Toronto iSchool.  She has worked as an archivist at Library and Archives Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute and as the Archival Advisor for the Council of Archives New Brunswick. She is currently working on her PhD focusing on the role of community archives in Aboriginal and Inuit communities.  She is member of the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives Taskforce to respond to the “Calls to Action” Report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Aaron H Devor

Aaron Devon HeadshotDr. Aaron H Devor has been studying and teaching about transgender topics for more than thirty years. He was one of the authors of versions 6 and 7 of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, and is now overseeing its translation into world languages. He is the author of numerous well-cited scholarly articles, and the widely acclaimed books Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality (1989) and FTM: Female-To-Male Transsexuals in Society (1997, 2nd edition forthcoming in 2016). His most recent book, The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future (2014) is a Lambda Literary Awards finalist in LGBT nonfiction. He has delivered lectures to audiences around the world, including more than 20 keynote and plenary addresses. He is a national–award winning teacher, an elected member of the International Academy of Sex Research, and an elected Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Dr. Devor, a trans man, is the Founder and Academic Director of the world’s largest Transgender Archives, a former Dean of Graduate Studies, and a professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Chase Joynt

ChaseJoynt2019Chase Joynt is a moving-image artist and writer whose films have won jury and audience awards internationally. His latest short film, Framing Agnes, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, won the Audience Award at Outfest in Los Angeles, and is being developed into a feature film with support from Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch program. Concurrently, Chase is in production on a feature-length hybrid documentary about jazz musician Billy Tipton, co-directed with Aisling Chin-Yee. Joynt’s first book You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist and named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and Mail and CBC. His second book, Conceptualizing Agnes (co-authored with Kristen Schilt), is under contract with Duke University Press.

Photograph: Tanja-Tiziana

Dr. Evan T. Taylor

2ed64541 (1)Evan Taylor is a health literacy researcher and activist who holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Social Work, and a PhD from the University of British Columbia’s Department of Language and Literacy Education. Evan’s considerable experience has found them working at the intersections of LGBTQ+ identity, Trans(gender) literacy, health literacy, and culturally appropriate access to public institutions and citizenship for marginalized populations. From 2019-2020, they worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Trans Oral History, working with the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria on the forthcoming Trans Oral History project – collecting 30-40 oral history interviews with trans elders in the US and Canada, focusing on their history of activism on behalf of trans people and communities. They currently teach at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Lara Wilson

Lara WilsonLara Wilson is the Director of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Victoria, and has worked in the areas of private records acquisition, access & privacy, and records management for 12 years. She holds a Master of Arts from the University of Victoria, and Master of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia. She is the past president of the Archives Association of British Columbia, and chair of the Canadian Council of Archives.

Alisha Stranges

Alisha’s first love is storytelling. As a queer woman, theatre creator, and performer, Alisha spent a decade devising original plays within Toronto’s independent theatre community. She holds a Diploma in Theatre Performance from Humber College and a BA and MA in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto, with a collaborative specialization in Sexual Diversity Studies. Most recently, she launched the Qu(e)erying Religion anti-Archive Project, which blends elements of oral history with the art of whiteboard animation to document 10+ years of supportive programming for life-giving, queer spirituality at the University of Toronto. She is thrilled to be working with the Collaboratory and The ArQuives as a Project Oral Historian, documenting the lived experiences surrounding the “Pussy Palace” raid, Canada’s last major police bathhouse raid.

Jordan Saroya

Jordan has been the Administrative Assistant for The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ Archive since January 2020, and in 2021 will be providing administrative support for the Pussy Palace Oral History project. He holds a BA (Hons) from the University of Toronto in Human Geography and Women & Gender Studies. He has worked in various administrative capacities and LGBTQ2+ community spaces. He personally values QTBIPOC (specifically trans) history and storytelling so is proud to be part of both The ArQuives and Digital Collaboratory teams for their work in this area. 

Staff, Students, and Research Fellows 

The Collaboratory works regularly with undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers, mostly in Toronto at the ArQuives; some of these positions are volunteer, whereas others are paid, depending on funding.

Eli Holliday
Research Assistant (2019-Present)

Eli is an MI Student in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, specializing in Library and Information Sciences. With a Certificate in Integrated Performance from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and a BA in Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice from the University of British Columbia, Eli has worked at the intersections of media and marginalized access to and creation of media in formats ranging from radio to magazines (print and online), books, and theatre. They are thrilled to be working with the Collaboratory to learn more about the world of community archives and the barriers and successes of documenting Queer history.

Andy Huynh
Communications Assistant

Andy is an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, currently in her fourth year majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in French. Her research interests range from topics of decolonizing the mind to the concept of gender in queer theory. As an aspiring polyglot, she currently speaks English, Vietnamese, French and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic. Having already completed a Certificate in Global Perspectives, she aims to further her insight into cultural and socio-political global issues. With this position, she hopes to build a sense of community and network through social media in times of quarantine. As our Communications Assistant, Andy is in charge of our social media presence and also gets the word out about our events.

Tomasz Glod
Queer View Mirror Oral History Project Assistant

Tomasz Glod is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Mississauga, completing a joint-specialist in political science and history. Although Tomasz has a variety of research interests, he is particularly interested in queer oral history. Having assisted in the completion of a project that focuses on “Queer Peel”, he is now pursuing a queer oral history project that focuses on Toronto.

Undergraduate Scholars in Residence, Digital Collections Lab (May 2017)

Caleigh Inman
Undergraduate Researcher

Photograph of Caleigh InmanCaleigh Inman is a fourth year Equity Studies student at the University of Toronto. Her research focusses on disability and settler-colonialism in Canada. She is excited to be currently working on the Mirha-Soleil Ross Digital Collection as an undergraduate researcher in the Jackman Humanities Institute Scholar’s in Residence program.

Alisha Krishna
Undergraduate Researcher

Photograph of Alisha Krishna

Alisha Krishna is a student of cinema and philosophy at the University of Toronto. They are very interested in filmic representation, especially of minorities. They are also curious about post-colonial theory, and very interested in the Desh Pardesh “Not A Place on the Map” project, because it helps them contextualize both their queer and South Asian roots.

Mackenzie (Mac) Stewart
Undergraduate Researcher

Mac Stewart is a U of T student majoring in English and Sexual Diversity Studies. Originally from Lloydminster, Alberta, he specializes in studying transgender communities and transgender community building. He is very excited to be working with the Collaboratory on the Mirha-Soleil Ross collection.

Zohar Freeman
Undergraduate Researcher

Photograph of Zohar Freeman

Zohar Freeman is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying mathematics and statistics. In his personal life, Zohar is a social justice advocate and active voice in the queer community. Zohar is presently researching the differing perspectives on gay identity of queer-identified men between the 1940s and 1960s, as expressed in interviews conducted by John Grube and Lionel Collier for the Foolscap Oral History Project.

Amal Khurram
Undergraduate Researcher

Amal Khurram just finished her second year majoring in sociology and education. Her focus is on researching and telling stories of people, especially the stories of people that have been systematically ignored. She is channelling this passion into the Not a Place on the Map Desh Pardesh Oral History project with the Collaboratory.

Past Members: Students, Staff, and/or Scholars

Dan Guadagnolo
Teaching and Research Fellow (2018-2020)

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Dan is a PhD candidate in US history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a former MA student at the University of Toronto. He worked on the Lesbians Making History project. He works with Elspeth Brown on outreach and community engagement.

Sid Cunningham
Graduate Researcher (2017)

Sid Cunningham is a PhD student in York University’s English department. His research explores the ways in which autobiographical writing and visual art by trans people has both critiqued and informed academia’s “high theory.” York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit internship program brought him to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, where he is working with members of the Collaboratory to process and digitize elements of the Mirha-Soleil Ross fonds.

Juan-Carlos Mezo
Graduate Researcher (2017)
Juan Notches

Juan-Carlos is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto in a collaborative program with Sexual Diversity Studies. He holds a BA from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a MA from U of T. His research explores the production and reception of gay newspapers and magazines published in Canada, US, and Mexico during the 1970s and 1980s. His project focuses on the papers’ visual culture, tracing the relationship between sexual imagery, community-building, race and class. Juan Carlos is currently assisting in the digitization and processing of audio tapes and transcripts of the Foolscap Oral History Project.

Dr. Cait McKinney
Project Manager and Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2018)

Cait McKinneyCait McKinney is a media historian who holds a PhD in communication and culture from York University, Toronto. At the Collaboratory, Cait has developed an audiotape digitization station and volunteer training program, as well as a digital collection for the Lesbians Making History Project. Cait’s research on the media histories of LGBTQ social movements explores how queer activists have taken up and re-configured  digital and online media in the late 20th century. McKinney was previously a Media@McGill Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, Montréal, and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.McKinney’s research has appeared in GLQ, Continuum: Journal of Media and Culture, Radical History Review, and Feminist Theory, amongst other publications. They are the co-editor of Inside Killjoy’s Kastle: Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and Other Lesbian Hauntings (UBC Press and AGYU Press, 2019). Their first monograph Information Activism is forthcoming from Duke University Press in August, 2020. McKinney teaches in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University.

Luke Drummond
Undergraduate Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Luke Drummond is a fourth year English undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and is currently working as Dr. Elspeth Brown’s research assistant, helping develop her course on queer oral histories of Peel. Fun fact: Luke is fluent in American Sign Language!

Margot Wilson (2014-2019)

Margot WilsonDr. Margot Wilson is an Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Victoria. Her academic interests include culture change, international development and planned change. Her research has focused primarily on Bangladesh but she has spent a considerable amount of time in India, mostly directing field schools for student groups. In particular, her research has focused on women’s work in homestead gardens, stigmatization of leprosy patients and the abandonment of women and children in Bangladesh. More recently, she has become interested in women’s narratives and the ways in which women represent their lived experiences, especially through letters. Alongside her projects on the Rajbanshi identity and a manuscript on the letters of Canadian expatriate women working in Bangladeshi women’s and children’s shelters, she is excited to be a collaborator for the LGBTQ Collaboratory.

Maureen FitzGerald (2014-2019)

Maureen FitzgeraldDr. Maureen FitzGerald has been involved in the University of Toronto’s Sexual Diversity Studies Program since its inception and held the position of Director of the undergraduate program from 2000–2006. As an alumna of the University of Toronto she helped form, activate and maintain the Rainbow Triangle Alumni Association from 1995–2000.
FitzGerald’s doctorate in anthropology was an examination of an emerging class structure in urban Cameroon through an analysis of friendship networks. In the 1990s she was involved in Lesbians Making History, a community based history project centred on “gay” women in 1950’s and 60’s Toronto, and has brought this work to larger attention through writing and public talks as well as through academic conferences. She also extended this interest in oral history to collecting oral histories of gay men associated with the University of Toronto. Her teaching at the University of Toronto has been in the Department of Anthropology, the Community Living Program (Innis College), the Transitional Year Program and University College’s First Year Seminars, where she taught “Lesbian Writing and Film” and co-taught with David Townsend “The Coming Out Novel.”

As managing editor of Women’s Press in the 1980’s, FitzGerald initiated and fought for the inclusion of lesbian-centred writing, both fiction and non-fiction. More recent activities have been as co-curator with Don McLeod and Scott Rayter of the Queer Can Lit exhibition at the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto (2008) and as co-editor with Scott Rayter of Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies (Canadian Scholars Press, 2012). She looks forward to contributing to the LGBTQ Collaboratory.

Elise Chenier (2014-2019)

Elise ChenierElise Chenier is a Professor in the Department of History and an associate faculty member of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Department at Simon Fraser University where she teaches courses in the history of sexuality, oral history, and Canadian social history. Her published research includes studies of interracial relationships from 1910 to 1950, butch/femme bar culture in postwar Toronto, Canadian and American male prison sex and sexuality, debutantes and elite femininity in interwar Montreal, and the origins of sexual deviance in legal and medical discourse. Her 2008 book, Strangers in Our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario explores the conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia, as well as the origins of the legal categorization and medical treatment of “sexual deviation.” It was awarded an honorary mention for the Law and Society Book Prize. Currently, Dr. Chenier is completing a book on same-sex weddings in the United States in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. She is also the founder and director of the Archives of Lesbian Oral History (ALOT), an open-access online archive of digital oral history, and, an open-access online teaching and learning tool and archives. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from York University and an MA and PhD from Queen’s University, Kingston. Alongside her academic work, Chenier has also be an activist in feminist, anti-racist, and queer politics.

Nailisa Tanner (2014-2019)

Nailisa Tanner is Librarian at Simon Fraser University and Project Archivist for the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony.

K.J. Rawson (2014-2019)

KJ RawsonDr. K.J. Rawson is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He previously held a lecturer position in the Division of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at the University of Kentucky. He earned his PhD from Syracuse University in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric and his dissertation focused on queer and trans* archives. Additionally, he holds a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado in English Literature, with a focus on queer theory and critical race studies and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Cornell University.

His research focuses on the intersections of queer, feminist, and rhetorical studies. Most of his work focuses on trans* archives and the ways that they facilitate the collection, organization, access, and preservation of queer pasts. His work has been published in Present Tense, QED: A Journal of Queer Worldmaking, Transgender Studies Quarterly, The Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, and several additional edited collections. Alongside the LGBTQ Collaboratory, Dr. Rawson is currently working on developing the Digital Transgender Archive.

Sara Davidmann (2014-2019)

Sarah DavidmannSara Davidmann is a senior research fellow in photography, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Since 1999 she has taken photographs in collaboration with people from U.K. trans* and queer communities. The photographs record a dynamic period of time in the changing history of gender, sex, and sexuality. Sara presents the personal stories of a largely hidden and marginalised social group in an attempt to counteract the mass media stereotypes that mostly misrepresent transgender people.

In 2007 Davidmann completed an Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded practice-based PhD in photography and transgender identities at the London College of Communication (LCC). On completion of the PhD, she was awarded a three-year AHRC fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts, LCC. Davidmann’s photography has been exhibited internationally including Paris Photo, Basel Art Fair, The Schwules Museum, Berlin, “Somatechnics” Sydney, “Transfabulous” London. Publications include Beyond Borders, 2010; Border Trouble, 2006 SCAN; trans agenda, Source 2004 and Crossing the Line (a monograph), 2003.

Sajdeep Soomal
Graduate Researcher (2017-2018)

Sajdeep SoomalSajdeep Soomal is a writer, researcher and public programming specialist working at the South Asian Visual Arts Centre. He is currently completing a three-year oral history project about the Toronto-based South Asian arts festival Desh Pardesh (1988-2001) with the launch of a digital archive, podcast series and educational guide. Recently, he has been busy thinking about the data politics of suicide prevention, telling contemporary diasporic Punjabi folktales, and preparing for the publication of his thesis, “Drone Strikes and Diasporic Fights: Mapping Youth Resistance to America’s Predator Empire,” in an anthology with University of Minnesota Press. Out of the office, Sajdeep re-invents his many drag personas – expect more Punjabi boliyan, more Pakistani pop songs from the 80s and–of course–more of her laal dupatta.

Karen Stanworth (2015-2018)

Karen Stanworth HeadshotDr. Karen Stanworth is an Associate Professor at York University in the Department of Visual Art and Art History. Dr. Stanworth is joint-appointed to the Faculties of Fine Arts and Education, and is associated with the Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies, Graduate Program in Visual Arts and Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York.

Her scholarly interest include visual culture and identity; museum history and pedagogies; visual rhetoric and nationalism, group portraiture; teaching of visual arts and art history in higher education; and history of visual culture in Canada.Her teaching and research address issues of knowledge formation within visual culture, with a particular emphasis on the representation of identities, and the paradox of belonging and difference.

Dr. Stanworth has published on topics related to visual culture and pedagogy; higher education and the arts; feminist cultural theory and production; and narrative and history. Her articles have appeared in Art History (UK), Histoire Sociale/Social History, Resources in Feminist Research, Symploke Journal of Comparative Literature and Theory and University of Toronto Quarterly.

Currently, Dr. Stanworth is completing a manuscript on visual culture and identity in 19th-century Canada, which examines the way visual culture participated in the construction and mediation of social identities, particularly in early museum pedagogies and the representation of group identities. Additionally, other recent research initiatives include the development of a collaborative network for historical research in visual culture in Canada, and a research project of case studies about bawdy images in 20th-century Canada.

Nick Matte
Project Manager and Postdoctoral Fellow (Summer 2014 – Summer 2016)

Nick MatteNicholas Matte is a politically conscious interdisciplinary historian whose research interests include the historical, social and scientific constructions of bodies in relation to sex, gender, sexuality, health, disability and race. In addition to working as the Collaboratory’s Project Manager, Nick has been responsible for developing the CLGA Trans Collections Pathfinder, in collaboration with K.J. Rawson of the Digital Transgender Archives.

Nick has presented at numerous conferences and his work has appeared in GLQ; International Journal of Transgenderism; Canadian Bulletin of Medical History; Transgender Studies Reader and Trans Activism in Canada. His dissertation, “Historicizing Liberal American Transnormativities: Medicine, Media, Activism, 1960-1990” traced the consolidation of trans activism and transnormativity as a cultural formation and in relation to liberalism. Matte teaches in the Sexual Diversity Studies Program at the University of Toronto where he also curates the Sexual Representation Collection.

Al Stanton-Hagan
Graduate Research Assistant, Digital Archivist (2014–2015)

Al Stanton HaganAl Stanton-Hagan holds a BA from the University of Toronto in Sexual Diversity Studies and Canadian Studies, and is now working towards a Master of Information specializing in Archives and Records Management in a collaborative program with Sexual Diversity Studies, also at U of T. They have been working with the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, where they now serve as Digital Librarian. Al’s research interests include queer and trans archives, the history of sexuality in Canada, and digital collections management.

Taryn Parker
Undergraduate Research Assistant (Summer 2016)

PastedGraphic-1 copyTaryn Parker is a current undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Sexual Diversity Studies and Women & Gender Studies. Taryn is working with the LGBTQ Digital History Collaboratory at the CLGA as a work study student. Taryn manages social media, noise reduces audio files, and works on the video crew for the SRS Delisting Project interviews. She is passionate about social justice and advocacy work, and is active within the LGBTQ+ community in Toronto.

Oli Bédard
Undergraduate Research Assistant (Summer 2016)

Oli Bédard is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Mississauga studying English and Women & Gender Studies. He is currently a work-study oral history digital archivist for the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, tasked with digitization of an array of oral history interviews. 

Rebecka Sheffield
Digital Archivist (May 2014 – June 2015)

Rebecka Sheffield HeadshotRebecka Sheffield is a doctoral candidate at the iSchool at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Rebecka has stewarded the development of the Collaboratory’s Islandora platform, designed metadata standards for the project, and created partnership agreements between collaborating institutions.

Rebecka holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, a post-graduate certificate in Book + Magazine Publishing from the Centre for Creative Communication at Centennial College, and a Master of Information Studies degree from the University of Toronto. Her current research focuses on queer archives & heritage, queer & feminist social movements, queer theories, and sexualities & histories. In particular, her dissertation project examines queer archives at a moment in time when the socio-political environment has opened up opportunities for these organizations to engage with the mainstream in ways previously unavailable. Sheffield is particularly interested in the partnerships that have developed between academic institutions and queer archives in the United States and Canada. Sheffield served as guest editor of Archivaria’s Special Section on Queer Archives and has been published in Museum Management & Curatorship and American Archivist.

Jenna Lee Forde (Summer 2014)

Jenna, a University of Toronto undergrad (class of 2014) worked with the Collaboratory in the summer of 2014 on the Lesbians Making History project and the Trans Partners Oral History Project.

Haley O’Shaughnessy (2014-2015)

Haley worked on the digitizing audio cassette tapes and gathering metadata for the CLGA Trans Collections Pathway.

Collaboratory Affiliates

Other scholars and activists working on LGBTQ oral histories

Rachel Berger

Concordia University,

Joran Biro

University of New Mexico

Brett Krutzch

Temple University

Joey Plaster

Yale University,