Learn more about our community's past at Queer History South. Photo: Photo Kozyr

Queer History South 2022 conference to take place in Dallas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

The contributions of LGBTQ+ people toward the betterment of the world cannot be underestimated, and the world is a better place when LGBTQ+ people are allowed to flourish.

From government and engineering to science and the arts, LGBTQ+ people have been at the forefront. History books should be filled with stories of LGBTQ+ people exhibiting courage, intelligence, bravery, kindness and victory.

But our history has been hidden from us, intentionally.

With so much external energy focused on erasing us, we must work even harder to secure our place in history. Any marginalized community must take responsibility for recording its own story.

For that reason, Dallas will host Queer History South 2022, a 13-state regional conference focused on LGBTQ+ history. Archiving is activism.

Queer History South was created by Dr. Maigen Sullivan and Josh Burford in Birmingham, Ala., to share best practices in historical archiving techniques and to network with other researchers.

Their first Queer History South conference was produced in 2019 and attracted historians from all over the country. The inaugural conference was so successful and created so much goodwill among the attendees, it became apparent they would have to repeat it.

Dallas won the bid to host the 2022 conference, and the North Texas Planning Committee settled on a theme: Archives for ALL, Y’all! More than 300 scholars, university librarians, museum curators, K-12 educators, authors, graduate students and community volunteers/enthusiasts will convene on Sept. 30.

The focus is the southern region of the U. S. Approximately ⅓ of U.S. citizens who identify as LGBTQ+ live in the 13 states referred to as the South.

Many of the legal advancements in LGBTQ+ equality have originated in the South. This is an important story to tell. Although the focus is on the South, the conference will host attendees from all over the U.S. Anyone who shares an interest in archiving is welcome to attend. 

The Dallas Way is one of four leading sponsors of this LGBTQ+ history conference, along with the Invisible Histories Project, Dallas College and The University of North Texas.

Archiving is activism.

Leo Cusimano

Friday, Sep. 30 

The keynote speaker will be Moises “Moe” V. Vela, Jr., the first openly gay senior White House adviser. He was named one of the Top 100 Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business magazine in 2009.

Co-creator and co-star of the streaming-TV series “Unicorn Hunters,” Vela is also the author of the best-selling book “Little Secret, Big Dreams: Pink and Brown in the White House.” It’s an auto-biography detailing Vela’s upbringing in a Hispanic Catholic home in Texas, his coming out story and his journey to the White House.

Saturday, Oct. 1 

The morning keynote speaker will be Mandy Carter, co-founder of Southerners on New Ground, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Equality North Carolina. Carter’s collection of papers from 1970 to 2013 is held at Duke University Libraries.

That evening, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will host a reception, opening all their exhibits to conference guests and a rarely seen peek into their deepest archive vaults.

Sunday, Oct. 2

The morning keynote panel will discuss the historic 1982 case of Baker v. Wade, an earlier challenger to Texas’ sodomy law. The lawsuit said it violated the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.

Learning our history leads us to respect and appreciate our elders. Our seniors represent the Stonewall generation. They are the AIDS generation. They fought and died to give us every privilege and right we enjoy today.

Discovering our LGBTQ+ history helps us appreciate the struggles and the courage of our previous generations. We have much to thank them for, and raise them up. To advocate for those who first advocated for us is our greatest honor.

Studying history can provide a road map for creating success in the future. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if smart people have succeeded with a plan in the past. We may need to tweak their former strategy, but we do not need to start from scratch.

Fortunately for us, many authors and researchers, librarians and curators, educators and graduate students are diving deeply into LGBTQ+ history. Many of them will gather in Dallas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to share current research and network with like-minded history enthusiasts. You can register for the conference here.

Leo Cusimano is the publisher of Dallas Voice.

Leo Cusimano is the publisher of Dallas Voice.