By Suzanne Deakins, Ph.D., GLAPN
Many years ago I sat in a teaching lab at UCLA, when the professor, Dr. Rod Gorney began talking about violence, creativity, and history. Up until that moment, I had never connected the three: history had always been about dates and wars in my mind.
He was eloquent in his approach and my other concerns passed as I listened intently to this lesson that would change my life. His thesis was based on the idea that without history we are doomed to violence and stunted creativity. He went on to explain that when history showed the impact on society, the humanity of life, it changed how people made decisions. “Without history we are doomed to repeating violence.” His study showed that when each of us understood our personal, family, and tribe history we could relook our decisions and the impact of decisions on our life. His further study showed that in the worst situations when young people understood history/herstory, instead of turning to violence they turned to using their creativity to resolve social issues and pains.
This is why I belong to and support GLAPN. Through the years, I have seen what can happen to my brothers and sisters. I have feared for the life of my son who died from AIDS way too early, seen my friends discriminated against in housing and medicine. I have seen the longing for families and a sense of normalcy in life. I embraced my own fear that my children would be taken away if I were found out.
In many ways, 2015 is a watershed year. The achievements in the GLBT community are gargantuan. They have not been without pain or fear. BUT we knew our history and knew it was important to prevail, to embrace each other. We learned that hate was only conquered with love and tolerance. Remember this year, teach it to your children, nieces, and nephews. Let those young people know what came before so they may find their way to helping all those who are thought less of and discriminated against. History is an art, full of glorious moments, times of fear and pain, and times we should hide our heads in shame for what we were afraid to do. Society is changed, enlightened, and embraced by one footstep at a time. One person clapping can bring the thunder of change.
Without history, we have no compass to the future. We must know from whence we come to find our path to the future.
Suzanne Deakins, Ph.D., is an author, and publisher of One Spirit Press/Q Press. Her commentaries have appeared in Bloomberg Press, Working Women, Art Age, and Wall Street Journal. Some of her books include: Back to the Basic Management, Lost Craft Of Leadership, Authentic Forgiveness, Sacred Intimacy, Double Chocolate, Book of Exotic Poetry. She may be reached at email@example.com.
GLAPN was founded in 1994 as the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest. Its purpose is to discover, preserve and share the history of all sexual minorities in the Pacific Northwest. GLAPN gladly supplies speakers to groups interested in regional queer history, and just as gladly consults with groups who want to document their own history. Materials donated to GLAPN become part of the reference library at Oregon Historical Society.