My timeline for the remaining work to be done on this project is a desire to do three continents a week from now until April 25th, which will allow me to have a fleshed-out website by that date. Since the intention of this project is not to be exhaustive, but only point out a variety of historical precedents to modern LGBTQ+ communities, I find this idea quite doable.
We’ve talked a lot about how history is converted into digital media, and I think one of the greatest uses for history is in public education on how the status quo on any particular social issue came to be. In light of that, for my digital project, I’m creating a website divided up by continents, and using that to show how same-sex love and other forms of attraction and sexuality, what we call in modernity LGBTQ+, was conceptualized across different places and times.
There is a paucity of round-the-world LGBTQ+ stories from a historical perspective. In fact, the usual treatment of this kind of material has been slipshod in scholarship and even, in those areas that do have it, encompassing straight up lies: mistranslated objects, etc., just generally very bad history.
My goal is to make something that was accurate but also inclusive, so we could show in quick snapshots how what we would today call LGBTQ+ people existed, persisted, and sometimes resisted as communities.
The website itself is just simple clickable links to relevant stories, sources, objects, and information about queer history on that continent. of North America, for example, which has information and pictures of First Nation two spirit people.
The virtue of having this a digital project is immediate: it’s inviting people interacting with the project to think on a more broad scale as to how a biological fact—attraction and sexuality between people of the same gender occurs naturally in the human population—has been viewed and understood across different time periods and in different cultures.
This is quintessentially made possible by a digital project—a paper requires one to get in detail about one particular period and place, whereas this is history on a broader but shallower scale, to see how one biological inclination was viewed in umpteen different cultures around the world. As a paper, this would be broad to the point of uselessness. As a digital project, however, it’s actually useful and natural as a topic. Digital projects work well in more survey courses style of historiography, after all.
For my terms and information about historical predecessors to what we now call the LGBTQ+ umbrella, I’ll be turning mainly to queer theory as well as historians with a focus on same-sex attractions in history.
It is my intention through this work to create a repository of examples of same-sex attraction and transgender persons and communities in history, and to wrestle with how a biological fact—that attraction towards those of the same sex occurs naturally in the human population—has been viewed, wrestled with, celebrated, but never non-existent in human cultures. In doing so, I’m dividing the world into geographic features and showing examples from all ends of them.
This is not intended as traditional scholarship—if I’m making an argument, it’s only in what I choose to select. Nor is it necessarily my aim to create something new of the traditional interpretations of these images and texts. Rather, my desire is to consolidate knowledge in one easily-traversed place.
My main audience is queer youth, and particularly queer youth of color, who have too often been denied knowledge of their place in history. The goal of this website is primarily education.