June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and Andy Sacher of The Lavender Effect has his hands full raising the banner of LGBTQ history wherever he can.
There’s the float he was asked to help out with at the West Hollywood Pride Parade. He helped select the ‘pioneers’ of the LGBTQ community invited to ride on the Christopher Street West entry. There’s an exhibit of news clippings and images from both The Lavender Effect and ONE Archives, now up for the month at The Hollywood Museum, that offer an invaluable peek at the social climate for gays and lesbians in Hollywood’s not-so-distant past. Later this month he’ll give a lecture at downtown Central Library. But the major focus for The Lavender Effect right now, a project of Community Partners that works to advance the future of LGBTQ history and culture, is the Oral History Project.
Representative Sheila Kuehl, activist Carolyn Weathers and Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl are among the 14 individuals who will sit down for cameras this month and record two-hour oral histories in the format established by the Shoah Foundation. It’s the start of an historic archive that already has 100 subjects identified for inclusion, and will eventually expand to focus on specific ethnic communities. Significantly shortened pieces will be available on the website for public sharing.
Sacher is passionate when talking about the significance of capturing these oral histories. “There is a sense of urgency about getting these people to tell their stories so we can document their contributions before they pass away, he said. “We have the potential to lose the context of our own history.”
Though The Lavender Effect was originally envisioned as a state-of-the-art museum celebrating gay culture and history, the project’s immediate focus has evolved. “Before we build with bricks and mortar – which we still plan to do,” explained Sacher, “I think it’s much more important right now to build the content so that future generations can relate to and experience these stories about these amazing human beings.”
This shift happened very organically, according to Sacher, and he credits working with Community Partners’ staff for making it feel seamless. “It’s been a very nurturing environment,” he said. “The administration and infrastructure are all really important, but CP is about so much more. This has been my net; I can’t imagine having done The Lavender Effect any other way.”
And Sacher has even more plans ahead for bringing to light the history and heroes of LGBTQ community. As soon as the ‘Pride pixie dust’ settles after this month, as Sacher puts it, The Lavender Effect will embark, in partnership with Project 10, on another project related to school curriculum development and the Fair Education Act. And a peek at the Queer Video Project here offers yet another opportunity to mine a rich history kept closeted for too long.