Central Coast Queer Archive project turns from oral story to video story


The Central Coast celebrated Virtual Pride May 16-23 and included some of the stories from the Central Coast Queer Archive Project. The Central Coast Queer Archive Project collects oral and video histories of the LGBTQ community for preservation in historical archives.

It presents local stories of the formal and informal spaces that the LGBTQ community has occupied over the past 50 years.

Daytona Clarke of KCBX spoke with Central Coast Queer Archive co-director David Weisman about the current state of the project and what people can expect.

Weisamn said the project has gone from an oral story to a video story. This transition occurred because the project received a quick grant from California Humanities “Humanities For All”.

“It has been a great help in allowing us to move forward technologically to make it an internet-based project, where we will be recording interviews with senior members of the LGBTQ community in San Luis,” Weisman said. “The interviews will be transcribed, and then the videos in their entirety will be posted on the website to create this historical database of what the LGBT movement has looked like and represented over, I would say, the last half century.”

Weisman said some of the more recent stories he added to the archives include a Central Coast Queer Archive Project participant named Carol Leslie.

“She is the owner of the Volumes of Pleasure bookstore in Los Osos,” Weisman said. “She tells in a rather heartwarming way when the AIDS Quilt came to visit San Luis Obispo in the early 1990s.”

Another interviewee, Weisman said, is called Kelly Curo and was one of the first Gay Student Union presidents at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, dating back to the early 1980s.

“He discusses some of the outreach activities they did at Poly Royal, which was very pioneering as a gay organization at the time,” Weisman said.

Weisman said one of the stories that got a big response from the public was a clip about a restaurant and bar called Breezes.

“The clip is filled with photos from the photo album of the day, and they realized that the people in this bar are not that different from them,” Weisman said. “Around the room after the clip ended, the buzz was like, ‘Why don’t we have a place like this in San Luis today? Why isn’t there a gay bar in San Luis Obispo? ‘ And that’s where we see, that sort of thing where advocacy, or should I say history and remembrance and memory can lead to action and advocacy.

An important part of this project for Weisman is to build bridges between different generations of queer people.

“We believe that an important part of the project is to create an intergenerational alliance between queer youth and seniors. Sometimes there’s an electronic divide, but sometimes it’s a cultural divide, ”Weisman said. “This is also in part because an entire generation of homosexuals was lost to AIDS between the 1980s and the turn of the century. This mentoring capacity is therefore lacking.

Weisman said he is always on the lookout for more community members to share their own stories and experiences.

“Another important thing is that we hope that the people who log in are so engaged that other senior members of the community might say, ‘Hey, I have some stories too, would you like to interview me? So in some ways we do it almost too, as an open call to find people who, after seeing what we’re doing and working with, might decide to contact us and become one of our future talks. ”Weisman said.

Find more information or get involved at Central Coast Queer Archive project website.



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