OLA’s Amazing Year Jan-Sept 2019

OUR AMAZING YEAR SO FAR—2019

by Phebe (Karen) Beiser, Co-Founder & Co-Director

In January Annabelle & Phebe spoke to the monthly PFLAG meeting. We also had an Ohio State University librarian come to see our collection; she was very interested in our three feminist bookstore collections.
February saw two researchers. On February 22nd, Laura flew into town from NYC to research what would become a film starring Cincinnati’s own Michael Chanak.
Great Big Story, an award-winning global media company owned by CNN, eventually released “The Words Matter: One Voice Can Make a Difference.” Michael initiated the struggle for inclusion of sexual orientation in Procter & Gamble’s nondiscrimination policy in 1987. You can view the documentary on YouTube. We congratulate Michael for his dedicated work early on as well as his continuing support for the Archives!
Ken Schenk, author of the book LGBTQ Cleveland, came to research what will become LGBTQ Cincinnati. The book will be released for Pride next June and Ken will come to Cincinnati for a reception.
March and April allowed us to rest and enjoy the beginning of spring …..
In May Phebe recorded a podcast interview (to be aired in the summer) with Chris Fortin of OutCincinnati (Radio Artifact). He and Melissa interviewed her about the Ohio Lesbian Archives history and collection. She also spoke to a CItyBeat reporter which developed into …..
June
….. the lead article in its annual Pride Issue. The Archives had two pages of publicity!
Panels telling the stories of “50 Years of LGBTQ History in Greater Cincinnati” were borrowed by the downtown public library for the first ever display for Pride Month. Second Sunday in Main (OTR) showed the panels during its focus on Pride. The panels were created by Nancy Yerian/Vibrant Kin (with grant money from People’s Liberty) and displayed at Pride 2017, NKU, Mt. Auburn Presbyterial Church, and OutReels 2018.
On June 15th, a contingent of lesbian and gay activists from Dayton traveled to OLA to see our collection. They were beginning the Greater Dayton LGBTQ+ Her/Herstory Project. Jerry Lyndon Mallicoat interviewed and recorded Phebe for StoryCorps’ focus on lgbtq people for the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall.
Orie Givens of Spectrum News (Columbus) drove down June 20th to do a video interview on the Archives. Phebe and a young African American lesbian visitor spoke for this newscast.
The Taft Museum invited Vic Ramstetter and Phebe Beiser to do a talk for its monthly Women’s Luncheon on June 26th. Phebe created a PowerPoint showing people and items associated with OLA’s herstory. The event was well-attended and longtime supporters and friends Maggie & Mary treated them to lunch at the Café.
July saw new volunteers Deb Meem and Michelle Gibson, a power couple of PhD retired professors from the University of Cincinnati. Deb was Director of Women’s Studies, Gender, & Sexuality. Wow! Deb was responsible for hanging up most of the artwork in the Archives in preparation for our Open House September 7th.
In August Victoria Ramstetter and Phebe Beiser (founders & directors of the Archives) were interviewed twice – 1) WVXU 91.7 FM, Michael Monks’ “Inside Edition” program on Cincinnati happenings (27th) and 2) an hour+ video interview for Ohio History Connection, part of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus. Video done as part of celebrating the 100th anniversary since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. The organization is focusing on telling the story of over 100 years of women’s activism. It will take the form of an exhibit that will travel the state. Our interview is part of an oral history with current female leaders and activists in Ohio. Vic and Phebe shared their decades of activism.
Saturday, September 7th 6-9:30pm: The 30th Anniversary of the Ohio Lesbian Archives! Since our beginning in 1989 in a 3rd floor room above the Crazy Ladies Bookstore, the Archives has been collecting books, periodicals, music, photographs, posters, and realia focusing on lesbian history. We include GBTQ histories and other materials as well. More than a reference library, OLA is evolving into a museum with trophies, political buttons, statues, a labyris, and gay history card games. We are the only known collection of its kind in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region. Our Celebration is at Clifton United Methodist Church in the meeting room on the lower level. We are proud to have a room in a church of an accepting congregation. This marks our 13th year here.

An Elder in the LGBT Community

As most of you know, June is Pride Month. This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, the beginning of the gay movement (original name).

At the age of 69, I am now an elder in the Greater Cincinnati community. Young people want to know what it was like to be lesbian in the 1970s. I came out at 21 over Christmas vacation. I followed Jean, a “known lesbian,” home to Ann Arbor. We both knew she would bring me out. But I knew I was a lesbian much earlier, in my teens (It may have begun as a crush on my babysitter!), but I was also aware that I couldn’t speak of it. The word then was homosexual. I have no idea how I knew not to go blabbing about this. When you don’t see images of gay people on tv, film, newspapers or magazines, you’re pretty much invisible.

Luckily in high school I had a friend named Barbara. She must have had early gaydar because she began sharing about her crush on the gym teacher. I had a terrible crush on my journalism teacher. We were sisters of the heart.

I call these times the Era of B.E.–Before Ellen (DeGeneres, that is).

I guess by the end of June I’ll be famous on a small scale anyway. With this upcoming 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, some people working on the Pride Committee are making a video documentary of sorts. They wish to speak with those who were around Back in the Day. So I’ll do a thirty minute talk then they’ll edit it down to a few minutes. After this, I’ll be interviewed by Chris Fortin of Out Cincinnati on Radio Artifact. Finally, Victoria Ramstetter and I, co-directors of OLA, will speak on the Archives late June at the Taft Museum Women’s Club luncheon.

By July I will just relax on my backyard deck. Happy Pride, everyone!

~ Phebe (Karen) Beiser

(Another) Open House – Happy Pride!

Please stop by & see what we’ve been collecting, have some refreshments, say hello. Our upcoming Open House will kick off LGBT Pride here in Cincinnati. From 12-2 on Saturday, June 22nd, our little reference library in the basement of Clifton United Methodist Church will be open (usually you need to make a request to visit).

Victoria, our summer intern Annabelle, and I would love to see you and answer any questions.  If you’re a lesbian mother, she’d be interested in talking to you for her project for Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Also, we discovered we have lots of duplicate copies of some novels, so we’re GIVING BOOKS AWAY! Know that this is highly unusual for an archives. It is only because they are duplicates that we can do this. Our small space also demands it.

NOTE:   we have a new email: OLArchives@gmail.com. (We are no longer using the old yahoo account).