The Allan Bérubé Prize recognizes outstanding work in public or community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer history. It is awarded in even-numbered years, covering works from the previous two years.
The Bérubé Prize is underwritten by the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, CA.
Click here to learn more about Allan Bérubé.
On the (Queer) Waterfront: The Factories, Freaks, Sailors, and Sex Workers of Brooklyn, the first comprehensive historical exhibition on LGBTQ life in Brooklyn, elegantly recasts the history of New York’s most populous borough as a site of long-standing and diverse LGBTQ communities. Meticulously researched and sophisticated in its approach to how gender and sexuality have changed over time as well as why they matter to urban history, it serves as a model for LGBTQ public history in the twenty-first century. On the (Queer) Waterfront exemplifies Allan Berube’s intellectual and political legacy: it makes queer history accessible and meaningful to broad and diverse audiences.
Through deeply thoughtful and ethical planning, The New York City Trans Oral History Project worked closely with communities to create a sustainable oral history project. As an innovative model of community engagement, the project’s materials, organization, and methods are beautifully exportable to other groups working to document under-represented histories. The project’s commitment to capturing at risk stories, its work to center marginalized voices, and its desire to see the work replicated through transparency make it the stand out winner for the Berube Prize this year.
HONORABLE MENTION: Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project
WINNER: Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | February 19 to May 3, 2015
Curated by Jennifer Tyburczy
While the art world has increasingly recognized the value of queer works, major museums continue to exclude queer artists. In this powerful exhibit Jennifer Tyburczy positions sex – queer, dissident, sexual health and explicit – as central in her celebration of artists such as Alma López, Zanele Muholi, David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibit frames censorship as producing knowledge rather than silencing queer creativity, in its bold display of how queer art, despite tremendous opposition, has refused to remain in the closet.
HONORABLE MENTION: Publicly Identified: Coming Out Activist in the Queen City
Levine Museum of the New South | 2014 to 2015
Curated by Joshua Burford
Publicly Identified chronicles the history of the LGBT community of Charlotte, NC from the late 1940s to the 2010s. Joshua Burford involved community organizations and initiated an oral history project to create an interactive timeline with an accompanying online presence. The exhibit boosted museum attendance by 16% and initiated the King-Henry-Brockington Collection of queer material at University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as a regional historical preservation project called Queer History South.
WINNER: Online Exhibit on the Upstairs Lounge Fire, New Orleans, 1973. Producer: The LGBT Religious Archives Network; Co-Curators: Mark Bowman and Lynn Jordan; Designer: Carl Foote; Collaborators: Skylar Fein, Johnny Townsend, and Henry Kubicki. http://exhibits.lgbtran.org/exhibits/show/upstairs-lounge-fire
On Pride Sunday, June 24, 1973, an arsonist’s flash fire killed 32 people in a New Orleans gay bar. The Upstairs Lounge Fire online exhibit weaves artifacts from the time into a vivid historical account of the tragedy and memorializes those who perished, including members of Metropolitan Community Church, who had used the space to worship and become bar regulars. Creators use diverse primary visual, documentary and community resources as well as compelling secondary source material. Visitors learn about how gay and religious people made shared use of space in early 1970s New Orleans, the violent loss and struggle to heal while investigating the crime, diverse media coverage of the event, and the mix of activist, political and homophobic acts that ensued. The committee found this exhibit to be “just plain excellent work,” immersive and rich in its blend of narratives, interpretations and evidence. The content and design allow visitors their own pace and depth, making the exhibition accessible for a wide range of viewers, especially students. Writes co-curator Lynn Jordan: “For those who would say that this event was so yesterday, i.e., we have achieved so many advances in our civil rights and in our acceptance for this to happen again, I would remind them that hate and intolerance are not constrained to finding shelter in any one moment, any one location in our ‘queer’ history.”
HONORABLE MENTION: The Legacy Project (Legacy Walk and the Legacy Project Education Initiative), Chicago; Executive Director: Victor Salvo. http://www.legacyprojectchicago.org/
The Legacy Project is an outdoor sidewalk exhibit of bronze memorial plaques originally installed along North Halsted Street by the City of Chicago to recognize the gay neighborhood Boystown. The plaques, honoring LGBT people from Chicago as well as figures from world history, are on public view on the street and online. An educational initiative established in cooperation with the Illinois Safe School Alliance is aimed at teaching new generations more about LGBT history. The prize committee appreciated the novel idea of an outdoor, publicly visible and immediately accessible approach, and recognized the potential impact the youth education program. The project’s ability to evolve was also attractive. As one committee member remarked, “I like my queer history ‘in your face,’ and their project does that, they took it to the streets.”
CO-WINNERS: Out in Chicago, produced by Chicago History Museum, curated by Jill Thomas Austin and Jennifer Brier, staffed by Jessica Herczeg-Konecny, Emily H. Nordstrom, Daniel Oliver, Anne E. Parsons, Mark Ramirez, and Morgan W. Valenzuela.
The Queer Music Heritage Radio Show and Website, produced and staffed by JD Doyle, Houston, TX. www.queermusicheritage.com
The Out in Chicago project team’s innovative installation for the Chicago History Museum worked extensively over a three-year period with community members to, as they describe it, “create an exhibition that recasts the city’s LGBT and urban histories thematically.” It was open to the public from May 2011 to March 2012. Out in Chicago is a lively exhibit that centers the experiences of individuals—especially African Americans, Latinos, transgender people, and the leather community—through four sections: family, home, community, and activism. Extensive use of oral history helped the curatorial team to create an impressively inclusive portrayal of the city’s many and varied queer peoples. New uses of archival and other objects, as well as innovative social media sources, also bring the exhibit to new audiences. Out in Chicago not only is one of the first exhibitions of its kind in a mainstream museum, but also showcases the possibilities of collaboration among institutions and community partners.
Queer Music Heritage is a labor of love of JD Doyle, who for over a decade has worked to “preserve and share the music of queer culture.” Doyle produces and hosts an engaging and informative monthly radio show and maintains an innovative user-friendly website that features a full audio archive of the program, transcribed interviews, and a wide range of visual materials. Among the many historical themes explored are the music of the “pansy craze” of the 1920s and 1930s, the Women’s Music Movement, and the music and politics of Queer Nation. Site content, impressive in its volume and scope, is organized to optimize access by researchers and educators. One noteworthy resource is “Queer Music History 101,” an exhaustively researched two-hour audio course covering the history of LGBT music from 1925-1986. Queer Music Heritage exposes diverse audiences to an important theme in LGBT history and encourages new research avenues.
HONORABLE MENTION: Memory Flash, produced by John Q. Collective, staffed by Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, and Joey Orr.
Deriving from Atlanta-based queer archives, Memory Flash was a one-day, temporary art piece and performance that “reactivated” historical sites in Atlanta through oral history, installation, projection, and audience interaction. This “discursive memorial” was also presented though publications, academic conferences, and a museum exhibit, and deserves special recognition for its creative bridging of archive and repertoire and innovative exploration of place, memorial, and queer history.
Co-winner: OutHistory, founded by Jonathan Ned Katz, staffed by Lauren Gutterman, produced by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City of University of New York Graduate Center, and funded by individual donations and grants from the Arcus Foundation
OutHistory is an extraordinary website that features a wide range of LGBT historical materials and exhibits generated and produced by a diverse and ever-growing collection of students, scholars, and others interested in LGBT history. With impressive accomplishments during its short life and even greater potential for growth in the future, OutHistory is a deserving recipient of the inaugural Bérubé Prize.
Co-winner: Polk Street Oral History Project, produced by Joey Plaster with the support of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, the California Council for the Humanities, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies
For different reasons, the Polk Street Oral History Project is equally deserving. Based on a study of a San Francisco neighborhood in transition, this project has consisted of a multimedia exhibit, a radio documentary, an oral history component, and a set of community-based conversations. The well-designed web-based elements provide ample evidence of the project’s sensitive explorations of race, class, gender, and sexuality; its focus on homelessness, poverty, drugs, and AIDS; and its interest in the voices and experiences of LGBT youth, immigrant, transgender, poor, and working-class cultures.
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