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An Army of Lovers
By: Kirstie Goodfellow
An Army of Lovers is a public exhibition created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and partial de-criminalization of same-sex sex acts. The exhibit itself was initiated by Elise Chenier, and is based on final projects completed by students from Professor Chenier’s fourth-year oral history seminar that concluded this past fall. Students interviewed lesbian women who were active in the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and created audio documentaries based on these interviews. We quickly realized the stories that were told in these interviews deserved to be heard by more than our class; although we did extensive research to better understand the women’s liberation movement, and particularly the important role lesbian women had in this movement, in many cases we learned new histories—local, national, and international—that had been lost or forgotten in time. It felt necessary and imperative to engage with the public and highlight these stories today.
The exhibit highlights interviews of lesbian, trans, and Two-Spirited folks who were active in the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Each individual has a feature banner that includes a short bio, photos and documents from their personal archives, and an interactive QR code that takes viewers to an online portal where they can listen to each audio interview from their own devices. In a few short months, and with a small team of extremely talented, engaged, and like-minded folks who believed in the value of this imperative, An Army of Lovers was successfully launched at the Vancouver City Archives on March 9, 2020. We were set to travel across the country throughout 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the project to a grinding halt. In the meantime, the exhibit was made digital so that anyone can view it and listen to the audio documentaries online. Elise Chenier also launched a weekly podcast series to accompany the Army of Lovers exhibit, where she continues the conversation by interviewing lesbian, queer, bi, trans, and Two-Spirit folks in the context of the past and present. We encourage everyone and anyone to tune into this podcast, which occurs every Saturday at noon PST, via the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony Facebook page (www.facebook.com/alotarchives).
I am so grateful for the opportunity to work on this exhibit and help make it a reality. Thank you to Professor Elise Chenier for working tirelessly to ensure the success of this exhibit, and my immense gratitude goes out to all the folks who agreed to participate in this project and share their personal stories.
Here is a link to the digital exhibit: www.alotarchives.org/army/banners
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