TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A historical exhibition of Charlotte, North Carolina’s queer history is coming to The University of Alabama Gallery Tuesday, March 7, and it will be displayed until Friday, April 14.
The exhibition is located in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in downtown Tuscaloosa and is free and open to the public.
The exhibition, “Publicly Identified: Coming Out Activist in the Queen City,” was created by UA alumnus Josh Burford while at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where he is the assistant director for sexual and gender diversity.
In 2016, it was one of two exhibits to win the Allan Bérubé Prize, which recognizes outstanding work in public or community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer history.
To put the exhibit in historical context, the department of American studies will also host a lecture Tuesday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa Black Box Theatre at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center.
The lecture, “Picturing Queer Souths,” is also free and open to the public and will be presented by visiting professor and alumnus Dr. John Howard of King’s College at the University of London.
The lecture will be followed by a reception and a book signing, during which visitors are welcome to visit an additional exhibit at the arts center, “Family Matters,” which features photographs of queer youth from Alabama.
Howard is a leader in the field of LGBTQ history in the South.
Prior to coming to UA, the “Publicly Identified” exhibition premiered in 2014 at the Levine Museum of the New South in North Carolina. It currently includes an interactive timeline of Charlotte’s queer history as well as various artifacts, such as a tee shirt worn during Charlotte’s first pride parade, publications produced in Charlotte and a stained-glass window made for the first inclusive community center in Charlotte.
Burford said he has always been interested in queer and trans history because it is relatively unrecorded.
“When I was at UA, I put together two archival projects with similar foci,” Burford said. “I wanted to see this history, but no one was collecting it.”
In addition to the physical artifacts Burford has collected, he has also begun collecting oral histories with the help of a community group in Charlotte. Because many of the stories involve people who are now in their 80s, he feels an urgency for the project.
“Our time is running out,” Burford said. “If we don’t start collecting those stories there is a chance we will never get them.”
The UA Gallery offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions of artistic works, artifacts and textiles and other media from permanent collections held by UA as well as works by faculty, students and guest artists and designers.
The gallery is at 620 Greensboro Ave. in downtown Tuscaloosa and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 8 p.m. on the first Fridays of the month. For more information, call Karen Kennedy at the gallery at 205/345-3038 or 205/342-2060.
The gallery is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.