Jane Addams

Historians erasing queerness from the narrative isn’t new. Jane Addams’ story has gone another way; her queerness is known, and cannot be erased. Without it, her legacy would not exist in the same way. Instead, scholars and historians have attempted to use her work to overshadow her queerness while claiming the opposite was happening. Acknowledging one part of her life does not erase another; we must look at all the parts of her life to understand who she is and why she lived the life she did.

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Bajazid Doda

It is not uncommon within our research to find someone as deeply unappreciated as Bajazid Doda, but we find a first in that Doda's murderer overwhelms any story about his life. Doda was an Albanian ethnographer and photographer who watched the destruction of his culture and took action against it, recording the landscape and identity of the Upper Reka Valley within Albania. His work has served as a touchstone within academia surrounding the Upper Reka Valley. Still, he is most well-known for his relationship with the man who would ultimately take his life.

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Ljuba Prenner

The study of queer history is frequently stalled by one debate: is it fair and reasonable to label a historical figure with language that they did not exist for them? Our project has long answered yes to this question, and we still do. We acknowledge that there is complexity in that task, and Ljuba Prenner, a Slovenian lawyer and author, is one of the clearest examples. There are layers of societal understanding, cultural differences, and personal experiences that all tie directly into how not only we see queer people but how queer people see themselves. The question we ask now is this: how many layers can be removed before you begin to erase a person's right to self-identify?

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Making Queer History Now

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and we took this opportunity to explore some of the great queer creators, thinkers, and movers making history now. We’ve previously explored what it means to make queer history; from living openly and authentically, to fighting for policy change, to creating work that inspires others. The ways people can connect queerness and their experiences are endless and wonderful. This month we were able to speak with several folks, including Lindsay Amer of Queer Kid Stuff, Kyle Fairall of Queerflex, Georgia Mannion-Krase of Queer Book Box, Sophie Labelle of Assigned Male Comics, Eli and Krista Coughlin-Galbraith of Shapeshifters, and Ash Hardell.

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Amrita Sher-Gil

Since our last article was about an art forger, it only makes sense to move on to an artist. Amrita Sher-Gil remains one of the most revered women in the Indian art world, with her paintings among the most expensive in the country. Born into luxury in Hungary, she chose to go to India to share the lives of those who were most often ignored, painting women and people living in poverty. She worked to showcase the complexity of their lives through her work. For most of her short career, she sought the stories of those who had been overlooked. To honour that path, we will follow behind her, and try our best to tell her story.

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Elmyr de Hory Part II

He spoke of his life [in Ibiza], saying:

“It was my kind of place. People seemed to live on terribly small incomes in those days. Anyone who had two hundred dollars a month was considered rich. I became friendly with some of the up-and-coming artists like Edith Sommer, Clifford Smith, and David Walsh. They had great talent, and I had a little more money at my disposal than they did-I wanted to help them, so I bought their work. That’s why I called myself an art collector. I myself, when I first arrived, kept working on my own paintings. I still had hopes that one day I would be a success. I made a series of watercolors of the port and some views of the Old City. But as I got more and more involved with Fernand and Réal, I more and more hid the fact that I was an artist. They were furious when I told them I’d spoken to Ivan Spence, the Englishman who ran the local art gallery, about having a show of my own. Finally, I stopped doing my own work altogether.”

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Elmyr de Hory Part I

This article contains mentions of the Holocaust and suicide.

When discussing queer people and the law, it isn't rare for the two to conflict. Not only because of the many queer identities that are or have been illegal throughout the world, but also because once you question the morality of one law, it is not a large leap to wonder at the morality of others. As we look at the life of one of the most famous art forgers in the world, that conflict becomes particularly relevant.

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Algernon Charles Swinburne

There is a demand of queer people to be respectable; to please the dominant society, to conform, to hide that which is seen as other. They draw contempt from inside and outside of the community. However, it is those queer people who abandon respectability who provoke change. Algernon Charles Swinburne was not one to hide who he was, nor was he quiet about his beliefs. Oscar Wilde called Swinburne “a braggart in matters of vice, who had done everything he could to convince his fellow citizens of his homosexuality and bestiality without being in the slightest degree a homosexual or a bestialiser.” While it’s true Swinburne often encouraged and even started rumours about himself, sometimes to draw attention and other times for humour, his sexuality was anything but.

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Victor Barker

Any time we look at the life of a transgender man throughout history, there are a number of hurdles we must first overcome. There are many reasons for a person assigned female at birth to wear clothes associated outside of that assigned gender. Historically, there is a precedent for women to dress as men to gain economic status or to more comfortably live in a relationship with another woman. It's important to untangle these threads in order to find the motivation. Victor Baker is a clear example of how these threads can weave a complete life story. If given access to our modern labels, we can see how he might have identified.

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Nils Asther

"Like Garbo, I have been given many labels by the newspapers, ‘Very nearly as handsome as Valentino' . . . 'the masculine version of that mysterious fascination with Garbo's.' [But] I am tired of being just a screen lover, and I hope someday to get a chance to be myself. I am rather like Greta in that I like to be alone. I love peace and quiet. Hollywood is really no place for me. I stagnate here . . . I only feel awake when the air is fresh and crisp as in my native Scandinavia.” — Nils Asther

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Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir, A.K.A Agent Bronx

Queer people played a significant role in the winning of the second world war, from the famous story of Alan Turing to the hundreds of names behind the scenes. One of those names is Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir. In any remembrance of this woman’s work, it must be noted that while her work was done below the radar, her life most certainly was not. The daughter of a Peruvian diplomat, she was a woman who loved parties and “favour[ed] the companionship of women who may not be careful of their virginity” according to Deputy Chief Constable Josef Goulder. She was not well-respected, but she was well-known. Considered to be a beautiful “good-time girl” who loved the spotlight and was dismissed because of this, her identity was only revealed years after the war had ended: Agent Bronx.

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Madame Satã: The Ultimate Queer Archetype

From the smoldering lands of the Northeastern coast of Brazil to the glamorous city of Rio de Janeiro, there’s no more appropriate itinerary for João Francisco dos Santos, better known by his drag persona Madame Satã, or Madam Satan. His fiery and controversial personality not only served as a muse but as a living and walking affirmation against oppression and those who want, without rest, to destroy beautiful things.

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Bayard Rustin: At the intersection of black and queer


Black. Gay. Activist. During an era when segregation and severe homophobia began rearing its ugly head in the U.S, an era when the AIDS crisis was just beginning to shake the world at its core Bayard Rustin was in the trenches fighting first for the civil rights of his fellow African American brothers and sisters, and later: the lesbian and gay community. Although Rustin faced harsh criticisms and scrutiny for his identity, his [queer] intervention concerned more than just the iconic mass march on Washington as he was an advocate and often silent leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence and gay rights. A man at the intersection of black and queer, devoted his life with purpose unlike any I’ve ever seen.

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