On Saturday, October 29th, join us for an in-person workshop at Hamilton Public Library to continue the conversation about building the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ community archives!

Date: Saturday, October 29th
Where: Hamilton Public Library (Central Branch, 55 York Boulevard, 4th Floor)
When: 10am-5pm 
What: An introduction to queer archives and the Michael Johnstone fonds in the morning, followed by small group conversations about how to build up the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ archives in the afternoon.
Cost: Free! Lunch and refreshments provided.

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“No archive arises out of thin air. Each archives has a ‘pre-history’, in the sense of prior conditions of existence. Constituting an archive represents a significant moment, on which we need to reflect with care.”
Stuart Hall, “Constituting an Archive,” Third Text 15(54), 2001: 89.
Cited in Rebecka Sheffield, Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times.

On Sunday, June 17, 2018, Hamilton Public Library accepted a founding donation for the 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive from the estate of Michael Johnstone, who had, according to the HPL website, “captured more than 50 years of Hamilton’s 2SLGBTQ+ history – serving as a self-appointed archivist for a segment of the population that has long been marginalized.” Johnstone’s papers include a range of materials: “news clippings, photos, meeting minutes, newsletters and more,” and they are currently being preserved and catalogued by HPL with plans to use them as the basis from which to build the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive.

A photo of Michael Johnstone beside the HPL archives' logo
Hamilton Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) at Pride Parade, 1991. Image courtesy of Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, Michael Johnstone Collection.


However, while we recognize the crucial importance of archiving the histories of 2SLGBTQ+ communities, we also recognize that gay and lesbian archiving has been a site of struggle, too. There has been much critique over the years for a tendency to archive histories and materials relevant to predominantly white gay (and to a lesser extent lesbian) lives, and for a subsequent lack of representation of more marginalized members of 2SLGBTQ+, including Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) 2SLGBTQ+, trans and gender non-conforming/non-binary community members, members who identify as mad or disabled, or those more recently added to the longer version of the LGBTQ+ acronym including intersex, two-spirit, and asexual community members.

At this founding moment for the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive, what can be learned from the history of gay and lesbian archiving, and from the critical engagements and counter-archives generated by those whose lives have not been centrally represented in 2SLGBTQ+ histories? These community events aim to spark critical conversations toward building and sustaining a Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive that is as diverse as possible, and ultimately an archive that can sustain and nurture its radical (grass)roots and support community counter-archives alongside its more traditional collection.

Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO) at Pride Parade, 1992. Image courtesy of Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, Michael Johnstone Collection.
“I also use the word [promiscuous archiving] as we have lost many sites of memories (like cruising grounds). I think a lot of Black queer histories are transient and very fleeting. The term speaks to that. I use the word to move outside staid notions of archives, visibility, representation. A move to the promiscuous brings in the archive’s sensuousness, its dirt, its grit.”
Cited in Ajamu, Courtnay McFarlane, and Ronald Cummings, “Promiscuous Archiving: Notes on the Joys of Curating Black Queer Legacies,” Journal of Canadian Studies 54(2-3), 2020: 587.

Event Sponsors

A logo for McMaster University Humanities

Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
John Douglas Taylor Conference Fund

Hamilton LGBT2SQ+ Community Archive

“[T]he archive (note the lack of ’s’) is not the same as the archives (note the presence of the ’s’). As a metaphorical construct, the archive has abstracted the work of archives to initiate meaningful and important conversations about the ways in which knowledge is constructed and used, but it has simultaneously overshadowed the practices that archivists undertake to collect, preserve, and make accessible records of enduring value.”
Rebecka Sheffield
Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times, Litwin Books, 2020: 12-13.

Community Guidelines

Participants in our roundtables can expect to be asked to follow these guidelines when posing questions of panelists or posting comments in the chat:
  1. We value respectful participation, and respectful ways of expressing both support and disagreement.
  2. We support criticism of ideas or positions, but not of people or their identities.
  3. We respect our differences, and agree to approach each other with generosity, kindness, and care.
  4. We share our own experiences, and agree to be mindful of how sharing traumatic experiences out of context might impact others.

open to all

Contribute to the Archive

More information on how to donate to the
Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive will be coming in 2022!

Our Commitments to Decolonization, Anti-Racism, and Anti-Oppression

We recognize that our work in Hamilton happens on the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas, on lands protected by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum agreement. We acknowledge that our shared work needs to deepen this recognition, committing us to decolonizing struggles. We are also committed to anti-racism and anti-oppression as core values for building the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive, recognizing that mainstream gay and lesbian spaces are not always sufficiently attentive to the dynamics of racism, colonialism, imperialism, ableism, sexism, biphobia, and transphobia, among other forms of oppression.