COLUMBIA, S.C. — An interactive project by Historic Columbia, South Caroliniana Library and the University of South Carolina's Department of Oral History is collecting and archiving stories from Columbia's LGBTQIA+ community in an effort to map the gay history of the capitol city.
The LGBTQ Columbia History Initiative consists of three distinct sections, each accessible from Historic Columbia's website.
- We're Here! Story Map documents more than 250 events, organizations and businesses spread across more than 100 physical locations. Chapters on the site include We're Here! Preserving Columbia's LGBTQ+ Stories; "Each Individual's Right to Be": A Gay History of the University of South Carolina; and Alone | Together: The Impact of AIDS.
- LGBTQ Oral History currently is home to more than 35 oral histories from Columbia's LGBTQIA+ community. Contributors are of all ages, races, sexual orientations and gender identities -- and there is a space where individuals can arrange to tell their stories as well.
- The South Caroliniana Library at USC contains the South Carolina Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer collection of records documenting the SC Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement in Columbia and other areas from 1975 to 2013. Over 55 cartons of material -- including newsletters, national and local publications -- were donated by the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center in Columbia and other sources.
“We are so honored to able to use this platform to share stories that have previously not been brought to the fore,” said Robin Waites, Historic Columbia’s Executive Director. “This community has made significant contributions to the city at large and we hope that our project will illuminate that important past.”
The project began in 2019 when Historic Columbia partnered with the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center and the Queer Cola Oral History & Digital Archive Project to compile the "often unseen and untold stories of LGBTQIA+ life in the Midlands."