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The Women Fighting To Preserve Lesbian Herstory

Outfest

It’s often said that one can’t know where they’re going if they don’t know from where they came. For The Archivettes, a group of women who fought, and continue to fight, to document lesbian history through the Lesbian Herstory Archives, this couldn’t be more true. Their journey is getting the big screen treatment in the form of the documentary, The Archivettes, premiering Sunday at Outfest in Los Angeles, and Out has an exclusive preview clip.

“Our history was disappearing as quickly as we were making it,” says co-founder Deborah Edel in the video. 

The Archivettes, directed by Megan Rossman who is assistant professor and chair of communication at Purchase College and an award-winning documentary filmmaker, profiles the founding of the “non-hierarchical, collectively-run archive that preserves the various expressions of lesbian identity, love, and solidarity” and has become the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians. For more than 40 years, the org has chronicled lesbian herstory through many of the major LGBTQ+ historical moments. But with the co-founders in their mid-70s, the group is now facing a new predicament: how to safeguard and transmit such invaluable materials and the stories they contain to younger and future generations. 

In the clip, Edel and other early lesbian archivists recount their socio-political awakenings and what led to the creation of the archives — the emergence of a subgroup within the Gay Academic Union that wanted to ensure lesbians weren’t being erased and discrminated against by white gays. 

As we’re still celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this doc is necessary viewing. Tickets can be purchased here

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