Last week I represented the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the International LGBTQI ALMS Conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ALMS stands for "Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections".There were about 100 librarians, archivists, researchers and activists there from as close as France, Sweden and the UK, and from farther away Poland, Hungary, Finland, South Africa, Turkey, North America and Australia. The conference was held at Amsterdam Public Library (see photo left), and sponsored by IHLIA. IHLIA is a Dutch international LGBT Library and archive, and owns the largest such collection in Europe. Three Pride flags are waving in the front of the library. These same flags were hung all over Amsterdam, particularly on the bridges crossing the many canals, in anticipation of the Canal Pride event on Saturday August 4th.
There were too many interesting presentations to give a comprehensive overview of the conference. However, just to give a taste of this rare gathering of LGBTQI people, I will mention a few. Starting with eastern Europe:
Polish art and cultural historian Pawel Leszkowicz presented a keynote lecture "Queering the National Museum of Poland", a report on the curatorial strategy behind the exhibition Ars Homo Erotica (see catalog, right). The exhibition took place in the heart of Warsaw in 2010, and combined the discovery of homoerotic works from the Museum's historical collection from antiquity to the present, with contemporary art work from southeastern Europe. Dr. Leszkowicz emphasized the burgeoning eastern Euroopean queer art scene. You can read his talk by clicking here. His lecture was followed up by speakers from Hungary. Peter Hanzli spoke about the work of the Hatter Support Society for LGBT People, which includes legal aid services, a counseling and information hotline, HIV prevention programs and an archive which documents the history of the Hungarian LGBT movement. To learn more about Hatter click here. LABRISZ Lesbian Association is the first and only lesbian organization in Hungary, and aims to draw public attention to discrimination against female sexual miorities in Hungary. Activities include creating public dialogue through education: publishing a books series; participating in the Budapest Pride Festival; offering the Lesbian Identities Festival (LIFT) which is an annual gathering including film screenings, workshops, book readings and a lesbian herstory exhibition; Budapest Lesbian Film Committee (a network of lesbian filmmakers whose shorts, feature and documentaries have been shown in local and international film festivals); and development of an archive. A portion of the film, Secret Years (2009) was screened at the conference. The film contains interviews with Hungarian lesbians, most of whom are middle age or older. Here is a photo from Budapest Pride 2012, courtesy the LABRISZ website: