As I reach the end of my first year as Executive Director of CLAGS, I am astounded by how much CLAGS has achieved since last July (mostly without my assistance, I have to admit!). After years of planning and months of “last-minute” debugging, the International Resource Network, a global network for scholars of sexuality, launched its groundbreaking, innovative website. Now researchers around the world can share resources, collaborate on projects, receive feedback, and (especially important for academics in isolated or even hostile workplaces) create scholarly community. Over a hundred people have already created profiles and begun uploading to the site. I encourage you to do the same, or at the very least visit the website at irnweb.org to check out the amazing work that’s going on there.
OutHistory.org, an equally original project, has moved from a concept to an almost-completed free, accessible, educational website on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history. From the early days of uploading one image after another and gathering materials, OutHistory. org promises to be a site unlike any other: a rich and deep archive of queer materials supporting detailed “exhibits” on themes as varied as lesbian theatre in New York, queer Chicago, Early American sexualities, and genderbending postcards from the end of the nineteenth century.
Beyond the virtual realm, CLAGS sponsored a real world convocation of LGBT archivists, librarians, and museum and special collections curators at the LGBT ALMS conference over the course of three days this May. We ended the semester with a one-day conference cosponsored with Visual AIDS that explored the past, present, and future of AIDS art, activism, and prevention. And, of course, the year was packed full of panel discussions, film screenings, colloquia, Seminars in the City, performances, and more.
I list this plethora of events not just to toot CLAGS’s horn (although that might be part of my motivation…). Rather, it is to marvel in what a few people with a passion for intellectual inquiry and queer lives can do with limited resources. After all, you might not know that CLAGS has no full-time staff: our work is done by a few dedicated part-time staff members and our hardworking (volunteer) board members. Our budget comes in large part from your membership dues. And yet, even with the restrictions our staffing, space, and finances put on us, CLAGS is committed to bringing the best, most exciting, newest, most innovative work in LGBT studies to light – to find and present the scholarship, performance, and research that most stirs our imaginations. As I look forward to the 2008-2009 academic year, I hope that CLAGS will only grow in ambition. With your help, I know we will.
Sarah E. Chinn