UNT Libraries to display LGBT archives from Resource Center in Dallas

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 15:08

What:    “The Resource Center LGBT Collection: 50 Years of LGBT History in Dallas” — The first public display of items from Resource Center’s former Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library, presented by the University of North Texas Archives and Rare Books in the Willis Library. The UNT Libraries acquired the Phil Johnson archives in August 2012.

When:    Through Jan. 2. Reception from 5-6:30 p.m. Oct. 17 (Thursday),followed by the Dallas Way’s Outrageous Oral storytelling series from 7-9 p.m. Exhibit hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, and 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Thursday. Exhibit is closed during UNT holidays; please see the website for current hours.

Where:    Exhibit and reception in Rare Books and Archives, Room 437 of UNT’s Willis Library, which is located at 1506 W. Highland St. Outrageous Oral in the Forum on the first floor of the Willis Library.

Cost:       Free

Contact:  Archives and Rare Books reading room at 940-565-2769 or archivesrarebooks@unt.edu.


DENTON (UNT), Texas — When the producers of the upcoming film “Dallas Buyers Club” needed photos of Dallas’ gay community during the 1980s to accurately depict it on film, they turned to the University of North Texas Libraries, which had 50 years of the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social movements in its archives.

Items from this collection — formerly the contents of the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library at the Resource Center in Dallas — will be on display for the first time in an exhibit at Archives and Rare Books, Room 437 of UNT’s Willis Library. The library is located at 1506 W. Highland St.

“The Resource Center LGBT Collection: 50 Years of LGBT History in Dallas” will run through Jan. 2. The hours of the exhibit are available on the Archives and Rare Books website.

Archives and Rare Books will host an opening reception from 5-6:30 p.m. Oct. 17 (Thursday). Some of the LGBT activists who are featured in the exhibit have been invited to attend. The reception will be followed by the Dallas Way’s Outrageous Oral storytelling series at 7 p.m. in the Forum on the first floor of the Willis Library. Established in 2011, the Dallas Way seeks to preserve the history of the LGBT community of the city and relay it through volunteer speakers.

The Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library was created in 1994 after Phil Johnson, the creator of Dallas’ first gay advocacy organization, donated his personal collection of LGBT artifacts and materials to the Resource Center, which is one of the largest LGBT community centers in the U.S. More than 60,000 clients use the center’s programs and services each year.

In August 2012, the Resource Center donated the archives to the UNT Libraries. The collection, now known as the Resource Center LGBT Collection, includes approximately 100,000 items.

“The center is pleased that these archival materials will be available to the general public through this exhibit,” said Cece Cox, the center’s chief executive director and exhibit co-curator. “LGBT history is vitally important to tell our story to future generations, and we honor activists like Phil Johnson and center founding executive director John Thomas by having their materials properly preserved and widely available.”    

During the exhibit, items from the collection will be displayed in six large wall cases in Archives and Rare Books and two smaller table cases. The items include medals from the Dallas Gay Games, a megaphone from an LGBT cheerleading squad, a button and T-shirt from the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; T-shirts from the Dallas Gay Alliance and other organizations; and many posters, newspaper clippings and photos.

One display case is exclusively about Phil Johnson, while another shows major political movement and triumphs for Dallas’ LGBT community. The exhibit includes newsletters from the Dallas Buyers Club, which was started by the late Ron Woodroof, a heterosexual Dallas man who was diagnosed with HIV infection in 1986. Woodroof began smuggling non-toxic, anti-viral medications that were illegal in the U.S. after he was given 30 days to live. Matthew McConaughey portrays Woodroof in the movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” which premieres in theaters Nov. 1.   

Other display cases focus on religion, with materials from Dallas’ Cathedral of Hope; hate crimes, and individuals who were influential in the LGBT community or allies to the community.

Mark Vosvick, associate professor of psychology and co-director of UNT’s LGBT Studies Program, called the exhibit “an excellent example of the primary source material available to scholars from around the world who conduct research on LGBT communities.”

“The LGBT Studies program at UNT is pleased that such an important resource is available to students and faculty members to encourage a broad range of inquiry into sexual and gender minority issues,” he said.


UNT News Service
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