I’m Not The Only One: LGBTQ+ Histories at Holy Cross Exhibit

Kate McLaughlin ’21

News Editor

On March 11, the “I’m Not the Only One: LGBTQ+ Histories at Holy Cross” exhibit celebrated its opening night. The exhibit is part of an ongoing effort to collect and increase access to historical materials relating to LGBTQ+ histories at Holy Cross, as well as to honor the pain, hardships, courage, and hope of the many Holy Cross students whose stories have gone unwritten for so long.

“I’m Not The Only One” was inspired by current work at the Worcester Historical Museum, which is currently undertaking a major effort to preserve, digitize, and share Worcester’s LGBTQ+ history to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings, or a series of pivotal LGBT rights demonstrations in New York City.

The exhibit, the product of a Weiss Summer Research Project, was curated by Professor Stephanie Yuhl of the History Department and her students, Nora Grimes ‘19 and Emma Powell ‘20. The group worked on the project throughout the summer of 2018 and during the 2018-2019 academic year. They were responsible for every step of the exhibition process, from selecting the sources, to writing the script, to charting out the exhibit. They archived newspapers dating back to almost 100 years ago, although the earliest LGBTQ+ reference that they found was from the 1960s, according to Powell. The group also worked with members of the faculty and staff to locate additional sources and conducted, transcribed, and published oral histories featuring the experiences of Holy Cross LGBTQ+ alumni, which can be found on Crossworks. Powell enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the project, which she said was “truly a grassroots effort.”

“Museum exhibitions communicate what story that society, culture, institution, and, often, regimes, want to tell,” she added. “For this exhibit, in particular, Holy Cross, as an institution, is claiming and bringing to the surface a history that was largely uncollected and under researched before… Before everything was buried and we had the amazing opportunity to dig through the archives, conduct oral histories, and hunt down some awesome objects.”

“I’m Not the Only One” is divided into four thematic sections, including Student Voices and Publications (featuring reporting and “letters to the editor” from The Crusader/The Spire and The Fenwick Review), Education In and Out of the Classroom (featuring the development of Holy Cross’ first LGBTQ+-related student groups and of curricula including LGBTQ+ subject matter), Spiritual Life (featuring oral histories in which LGBTQ+ alumni reflect on the challenging relationship between their faith and their sexuality), and Student Organizations and Activism (featuring the history of the formation of student established organizations in response to homophobia and hate crimes).

The curators acknowledge that the work toward the acceptance and inclusion of members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus is not finished. One of the graphics references the alleged assault of an LGBTQ+ student on campus in October of 2018.

“Our exhibit team could never have predicted how timely and vital this exhibit is. This exhibition is telling the community that LGBTQIA+ history matters and Holy Cross does, in fact, have a vibrant LGBTQIA+ history,” said Powell, before adding: “To be clear, as an institution and a community, we are still not doing enough. This exhibit is just a small contribution from Professor Yuhl, Nora, and myself. The college needs to continue to protect, serve, and offer resources to the LGBTQIA+ community on campus.”

“I’m Not the Only One” is a testament to the many, varied experiences of LGBTQIA+ students at Holy Cross, across different gender identities and many time periods. Powell said that the Student Organizations and Activism section is her favorite part of the exhibit, because it provides models of student activism that has taken place in the past. She added, “In my opinion, apathy toward the LGBTQIA+ is one of the largest problems facing the Holy Cross community. Those who go to the exhibit are taking time out of their day to learn about a community. What better way to do that than by finding out about someone else’s history and story?”  

The exhibit will remain on display on the first floor of Hogan through April 11.

Photo by Professor Daniel Libatique ’10.

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