Oral histories have long been used to help tell the stories of people whose life experiences are often not detailed in traditional archives. This new oral history project aims to interview people who are a part of the Indianapolis LGBTQ+ community and have seen it change and evolve over their lives. Once complete, these interviews will be stored in the Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room at Central Library, where they will be a source of information for researchers and an inspiration for others to continue expanding the public’s knowledge of LGBTQ+ history.
The past is an integral part of a person’s identity, and it is important to share and learn from other people’s experiences and stories. The LGBTQ+ community has increased in visibility over the years, and as it evolves, the narratives of those that have lived and grown with the community contribute integral insight into how individuals have promoted change. A collection of oral histories about members of the LGBTQ+ community in Indianapolis will serve as a strong foundation to promote further understanding about how marginalized communities function within the larger context of city life, as well as how they function as places of refuge for people that struggle to find themselves represented in society.
For a sense of what to expect, listen to an excerpt from a recent interview with Keith Washington, where he discusses his life experiences as a Black member of the LGBTQ+ community. Intersecting faith and his identities as a Black and gay man, Washington details how he has lived his life continually working towards equality and representation.
The interview will last between one to two hours, and the goal is to go from birth to present day, exploring how the narrator’s life has been shaped and influenced by various events, with an emphasis on the LGBTQ+ community. If you are interested in bringing your voice to this project, please fill out the form below. IUPUI’s School of Public History and the Indianapolis Public Library are excited to work with you and add your voice to the history of Indianapolis! Learn more about LGBTQ+ Services @the Library.