Lesbian Herstory Archives Benefit, saturday at noon

Estate_of_Robert_Giard_Mabel_Hampton_Sees_the_Pigeons_at_the_Old_Lesbian__2142_41.jpg
Robert Giard Mabel Hampton Sees the Pigeons at the Old Lesbian Herstory Archive 1989


The archive was somewhere out in Brooklyn, and also, as strange as it may seem today, I was pretty shy.

It was somewhere around 1990, and I had just read about a place called the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Accompanying the story was a picture of this wonderful older black woman sitting in the middle of stacks of books and papers. It was Mabel Hampton. She seemed to belong to the ages already. I was fascinated, and wanted to know more.

I also really wanted to visit the place, but although I was quickly becoming more and more involved with ACT UP, I still didn't think I knew any honest-to-goodness lesbians, at least as friends. I was also scared: The strong women activists I saw all around me were pretty fierce; besides, having grown up as a secret homo in the Midwest in the 40s and 50s, I had to confess I still wasn't even very comfortable with straight women.

I suppose it was pretty stupid, but I was also afraid I would be very much out of place, and perhaps even be challenged by the people who I believed had good reason to be there, unlike me.

I was learning fast (about all kinds of difference), but I wasn't there yet.

That was twenty years ago, and I feel much more comfortable in my own skin, and to my great delight, in every kind of skin. I still haven't been to the permanent home of the Archives, today "a grassroots collection supported by a non-hierarchical women’s collective, available for all Lesbians and housed within a communal, not an academic, setting in a 4-story limestone brownhouse [sic]" (according to Mickey Weems in the Boston Edge). But at noon on Saturday Barry and I are going to begin celebrating my birthday by attending the first ever Art Benefit for the Lesbian Herstory Archives here in Chelsea, before we go off to an equally festive holiday lunch.

Unfortunately, unless you've already purchased one of the 80 tickets (they're already sold out!), you won't be able to go home with a piece of art by one of the artists who is part of their incredible list of donors. Anyone who wishes to attend the event however (I would look forward to the hot crowd as much as a chance to see the art), and support the Archives, can just show up and donate $25 cash, "more or less if", according to the Archives site, at the door. The drawing itself begins at one o'clock.

The event is being held at Alexander Gray Associates, 526 W. 26th Street, and not at the Archives.


[image from the Bulger Gallery]