The National Lesbian and Gay Federation (NLGF) has today formally handed over the Irish Queer Archive (IQA) to the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
“The NLGF is delighted to donate the archive to the State”, said Ailbhe Smyth, chair of the NLGF.“We pay immense tribute to the foresight of the NLI in understanding the importance of the Irish Queer Archive and its critical relevance to Irish social, political and personal histories, and in their commitment to preserve and catalog it for future generations”“The IQA bears witness to the transformation of Irish society from the criminalisation of gay people to the cusp of state recognition of our relationships. It is entirely appropriate that this extensive collection joins the other NLI collections documenting these critical movements in Ireland’s progress” continued Smyth.
The massive collection contains 250,000 press cuttings, clippings from gay magazines dating back as far as 1950s, collection of Irish lesbian and gay films, and an extensive photo collection.
But what is more priceless are the letters, dating from 1970s onwards, from individuals all across the country to support organisations. There are also letters from the queer community who wrote about the difficulties and hardship they faced. Writing these letters are the only support they had at that time.
However, the IQA does not only document the bad times, It has also shown that the situation for gay people is improving gradually.“Thankfully too, the IQA documents comprehensively the journey from isolation to a visibility exemplified by the expected 10,000 people who will be on O’Connell street next Saturday for the Gay Pride Parade”, said Ailbhe Smyth.
Smyth hopes that the donation will not only educate people about the gay community’s past, but also celebrate the successful acceptance of the gay people by the public.
“Through this donation to the NLI, researchers, historians and the public will have access to material showing the incredible resilience of lesbian and gay people in seeking justice and equality in the face of silence and opposition, and the contribution of Ireland’s lesbian and gay population to the huge transformation of Irish society over the last few decades”, said Smyth.A reception to mark the handover will be held at the Library at 6pm this (Monday) evening, with Colm Toibin as the guest speaker