Building the Hamilton 2slgbtq+ Community Archive

“Critical Engagements with 2SLGBTQ+ Archives”
With Syrus Marcus Ware, Pamila Matharu, Sheri Osden Nault, & Rebecka Sheffield
October 19, 2021

“Archiving Hamilton’s 2SLGBTQ+ Histories
With Richard Douglass-Chin, Pauline Kajiura, NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun (Lyndon George), & Cole Gately
October 21, 2021

For more information, visit:

On October 19th and 21st, 2021, the members of Museum Queeries attended the two online panels on the current building of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive at the Hamilton Public Library in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. These two rountables included a discussion amongst academics, practitioners, activists, and artists on both critical engagement with 2SLGBTQ+ communities and archival practices as well as dialogue with active members of the local 2SLGBTQ+ community. As a research cluster, Museum Queeries met to discuss the two events. We were especially excited to witness the early development of a community archive in a smaller Canadian city and contemplate the complex dynamics between not only community consultation and collaboration but also the links across archival and curatorial practices. In response, our Research Assistants and Associate, who are members of the wider Emerging Scholars and Practitioners Committee within the Thinking Through the Museum Research Network, wrote SnapThought reflections.

“This two-night event taught me that creating an archive, in essence, creates a legacy for future generations to have access to history left out of the main narrative. The event displayed the importance that counter-archiving has in the process of creating archives by decentering of narratives and finding new practices of archiving. I think that the second night of the event’s abundance of storytelling illustrated how counter archiving can be an accessible way of information sharing, where chatting amongst friends, colleagues, and community form an archival space that has living voices animating the information. In this era of Zoom meetings that have allowed us to reach across countries and regions, creating beautiful moments of counter archiving, I wonder how we can maintain and archive this method of information sharing going into the future.” – Thomas Boeckner

“I found it fascinating how the conversation on counterachiving, and the importance of “repeating the names of [those] before” (Syrus Marcus Ware) implicitly bled into the second day of the event. Here, the speakers (Richard Douglass-Chin, NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun, Pauline Kajiura, and Cole Gately) took a personal approach in recalling the histories of Hamilton as they shared their own memories around being queer and the queer spaces they found themselves in in the city. The speakers named societies, and bars, and places, and shared stories about Hamilton as they knew it. It felt special just to be able to sit-in and hear everyone jump-in and engage with each other’s recollections of certain places and events, which, in doing so, helped me picture multiple, rich, complex memories of a city I’ve never been to.” – Mika Castro

“The juxtaposition of these two panels on the development of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive in Hamilton, Ontario, was striking. I was especially captivated by the coalescing between the two – the emphasis, in the former, on counter-archives and the need for a more radical imagining of archival “artifacts” and, then, in the latter, the quite literal archiving of stories and experiences from the formation of Hamilton’s 2SLGBTQ+ community in the late 1980s and 1990s through the recording of a cross-community dialogue centered on reminiscing. In contemplating the resonances across both panels, I was drawn to Ware’s reference to the emerging practice of artist residencies at archives. This development highlights for me the potential and necessary power of engaging with concrete stories and (re)interpreting them for creative representation and interpretation beyond the bounds of traditional archival practices typically catered to recording and preservation.” – Nicole Ritchie