This website, like so many other projects, began with a question. It was a December night of 2015, and my classmates Chelsea Richardson, Clara Abbott, and I were talking about SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) in Haverford's Coop. Chelsea and I had been the co-heads of the club for that year, and Clara was highly invested as the OMA (Office of Multicultural Affairs) liasion. The topic of discussion, of course, was its failure. Weekly attendance rarely exceeded 5 people. That semester, our budget had been slashed to about three hundred dollars, all of which had been spent on a DJ for a mediocre party and supplies that never arrived for an event (but which we managed to pull off anyway).
Needless to say, we were all pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. We'd been meeting with various staff members--Qui Alexander, Ben Hughes, among others-- and we had the beginnings of some ideas to revive the organization, many of which would come true over the following year. Yet at that point, SAGA for the most part consisted of us three brainstorming ideas that we weren't sure would ever be brought to fruition.
I don't remember the particularities of this conversation, but at one point the seminal question was floated: "When was SAGA even started?" We all expressed our lack of knowledge, and then someone suggested "Well, you could look in the archives." And to the archives I went, and in the archives I stayed. I found boxes of material, papers in folders. I found people who would come to be my mentors--Krista Oldham, Paul Farber, and others-- who watched as the project grew from one question to multiply into many more. It grew into a research proposal for the CPGC (Center for Peace and Global Citizenship) and flourished as I spent that summer and fall researching, scanning, digitizing, and archiving all that I could find.
In this website you find the results of that research-- the unease of marginalization, the joy of resilience, and yet at the core lies the everyday nature of it all. But I still find myself returning to that first question: "When was SAGA even started?" This was easy to answer-- around 2000 for the current organization, 1975 if you count BGALA and GPA as the same predecessor groups. Yet when that question is asked, I feel as that's not the whole of it. When someone asks when SAGA was started, I feel as though they're really asking "When did I start?" "Where does my narrative as a queer Haverfordian begin?"
And to tell you the truth, I don't have an answer to that question. I've come to realize there probably isn't an answer to that question: it's certainly before 1975, because I've had people share their stories from much earlier than that. It's surely before that even, because the nature of this world means those voices are no longer alive to speak. But surely, there's a story way back, way back before we ever thought.
But it's hard to archive your imagination.
So what I present to you is an origin story of the current climate for LGBT students at Haverford. It's complete in the best way I can try, but incomplete in the sense that I know there's always more to be found, added, and archived.
I believe this origin story is a cultural possession of ours, as members of the LGBT (or the many other names we go by) and the Haverford community. As a cultural possession, this website is mine in the sense that I have curated its current state, but yours in the sense in that it contains your story as well as mine. And ours in the sense that as this project moves forward, I wish this to be a collaborative project and a collaborative archive.
In that vein, I hope you enjoy the origin story on these pages. And I hope that should you wish to lend your voice, your brain, your papers, or your photos, to not hesitate to contact either me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Krista Oldham, Haverford's Archivist and Records Manager, at email@example.com.
With love, hope, and solidarity,
Haverford College Class of 2018