Young Lesbians, On Selfhood

Exhibition on View:
February 8 – May 26, 2024

The exhibition is on view on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of The Center. A portion of the exhibition is on view within The LGBT Community Center National History Archive on the 4th floor with limited viewing hours. Please feel free to stop by or call to confirm viewing hours before your visit.

  1. Moonrise
  2. T Shot Bruise
  3. Gay Agenda
  4. My Neck, My Back
  5. gods and mermaids

Young Lesbians, On Selfhood produces a narrative that represents the history, ingenuity, joy, and creativity of multiply marginalized young Lesbians. The Lesbians in this project often feel like their lives are too mundane to be recorded and acknowledged in the larger tapestry of Lesbian history. This is a ‘real time’ community-centered collection that pushes the boundaries of what is historically significant. It asks of its participants: What does your Lesbian identity mean to you?

This group exhibition, representing thirty-five young Lesbians, is centered around several key themes that surfaced from everyones’ stories: Identity and The Self; Love, Sex, Desire; Friendship and Community; and Transness and Gender. 

Young Lesbians, On Selfhood has a self-conscious awareness about what stories from who are typically excluded from the historical narrative while attempting to address silences within mainstream archives. It asserts a Lesbian present: an archive of the Now that we can reference for knowledge, affirmation, and joy.

Explore the material intimacies of participants’ lives. View their art, flip through the zines, and listen to their stories.

‘On Selfhood: Young Lesbians within the Margins’ Oral History Project

‘On Selfhood: Young Lesbians within the Margins’ documents the lives of 42 multiply marginalized Lesbians from the ages 18-25 through oral histories and item collecting. The project took place from 2022-2023 with most of the oral histories happening in 2022. The organizing questions for this collecting project focused on how Lesbians within the margins arrived at their Lesbian identity. How did they think about their Lesbianism in relation to their other marginalities? Also, how are young Lesbians crafting, forming, and creating communities from their beds, homes, apartments, and online? On Selfhood deeply invests in the personal while creating histories of our present moment.

There are 42 collections with an anonymous collection where participants felt more comfortable sharing their items. 38 people chose oral histories, and four people wrote their stories. Every collection either has an oral history or a written story. Participants included items like collages, paintings, drawings, song lyrics, Tumblr posts, fanfiction, audio diaries, journal entries, essays, poetry, stage plays, t-shirts, zines, photography, polaroids, and prints.

View the website with the oral histories and digitized materials: On Selfhood Website and follow @lesbianoralhistory on Instagram for project updates.

Click to enlarge