‘We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re in the Public Record!’

Susan Edwards, Margaret Phillips and Kiyoko Shiosaki

Susan Edwards, Margaret Phillips and Kiyoko Shiosaki sort through materials for a new exhibit on the LGBTQ movement. (Photos by Jami Smith for the UC Berkeley Library)

Behind each document is a story. There’s the Civil War soldier who was born a woman and fought as a man. The 19th-century Zuni tribe member in New Mexico who was born as a boy and lived as a woman — and went on to meet the president. The pro-gay magazine that in the 1950s helped pave the way for LGBTQ rights.

Before looking into what the public record had to say about LGBTQ people, “we didn’t realize we were going to find so much,” Jesse Silva says in a new story posted on the UC Berkeley library website. Silva, Berkeley’s librarian for government information, political science and public policy, came up with the idea of looking at the LGBTQ movement through the public record for a pair of presentations in 2016 — one at a conference outside of Washington, D.C., and one at UC Berkeley. 

Now the topic is the focus of a new exhibit, with Silva serving as one of the lead curators.

“We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re in the Public Record!” — on display in Doe Library’s Brown Gallery starting Thursday — brings to life stories from the LGBTQ movement through government documents, art, posters and other materials from the UC Berkeley Library’s collections.

“The mission … is to highlight materials from our Library,” says Margaret Phillips, UC Berkeley’s librarian for gender and women’s studies, education, and psychology, who shares the role of lead curator with Silva. “We can provide a glimpse of LGBTQ history because of the library — because the library has preserved and collected it.”

Read more about the exhibit and the stories it reveals