The value of making sexual difference visible is an exhibition of select materials collected and produced under the auspices of a research project entitled The lives of (sexual) others: Social difference and urban change in Lethbridge, Alberta. The project has two primary goals:
- To develop an archive of oral histories from lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and/or transgender (LGBTQ) people who live (or have lived) in or around Lethbridge, thereby adding the voices of LGBTQ people to the local historical record.
- To understand the social geographies of queer difference in a changing city: for instance, where do LGBTQ people feel safe and “in place”, and what contributes to that sense of physical or emotional safety?
While the municipal government has made strides toward its goal of making Lethbridge a “welcoming and inclusive community”, LGBTQ lives and experiences are often re-silenced by being included implicitly rather than directly. This strategy sends yet another message that LGBTQ lives and experiences do not matter. Further, it disregards the diversity of experiences across LGBTQ people. Being and feeling “different” is shaped through both individual experience and systems of power and privilege, which means that for some, being gay is unremarkable, whereas for others, sexual difference shapes every aspect of daily life. When LGBTQ voices are silenced, our lives are characterized as marginal, exceptional, and one-dimensional.
Our stories are too important to be lost or hidden under a banner of “diversity”. This project is one effort to preserve and showcase a full-er range of our experiences, while also offering critical evidence for the uneven pace of social change. The project is ongoing through 2014.
Visit the project’s website queerlethbridge.com to read quotes from the oral histories and learn how to get involved.