James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Monday, February 8, 2010

Archives February 2010

Gary Fisher Papers : “Proceed at your own risk”

I love the first page of Gary’s diary “Vol. V.” It’s an invitation that sets the tone with a wink and a smile. And it sums up all of the contradictions that surround the work of a diarist. Are these private musings for public consumption? A means to think through one’s life? An explanation? Who is the audience? Does it affect what’s written? And, if it does, how? I can offer no answers but it is a question I revisit each time I read a diary.

Gary Fisher was a gay African American man who enjoyed writing, drawing and, if the diaries are to be believed, dancing! He was a dedicated diarist. Born on June 19, 1961 in Bristol, Pennsylvania, Fisher attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1979-1983 where he studied English and creative writing. He died of AIDS at the age of 32 on February 22, 1994. After his death, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick edited portions of his journals, poems and stories in order to publish Gary in Your Pocket. Gary’s thoughts on life and love seemed very fitting for a February post.

The Hormel Center’s archival collections include diaries from a few different individuals. The Vincent Diaries, the Gary Fisher Papers, and the Louis Graydon Sullivan Papers contain the most diaries. The Sullivan Papers are on deposit from the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California and document the life and work of a female-to-male transsexual before, during and after his gender reassignment. All Hormel Center archives are handled through the San Francisco History Center, 6th Floor, Main Library.

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