Documentary photographer and Griffith University lecturer Heather Faulkner is working to preserve the history of lesbians in the seventies and eighties, but needs public support to get the project off the ground.
Dr Faulkner’s book, North of the Border: Stories from a Matter of Time Project, has captured the personal journeys of eight Queensland lesbians from an era when homosexuality was still a crime.
Dr Faulkner is seeking funding from a variety of sources— the entire project will cost approximately $20,000—which includes a recently launched crowd funding campaign. She says documentation of Queensland’s LGBTIQ history is long overdue.
“This project has emphasised the importance of documenting LGBTIQ histories. Current Australian LGBTIQ literature and creative works either present a generalised history or are male-centric. This will be the first book to address Queensland lesbian histories,” she says.
University of Western Australia Publishing have agreed to publish the book, but Dr Faulkner needs further funding to cover publication expenses and outreach to rural LGBTIQ communities and metropolitan LGBTIQ history group organisations.
Dr Faulkner says this outreach is vitally important to LGBTIQ communities.
“This will be the first book directly addressing the Queensland lesbian experience. For many Queenslanders, this is the first time they’ve seen themselves visualised this way.”
“I specifically avoided using visual clichés of representation—i.e. overtly sexual images—because I wanted to present my subjects as whole people. There are still many people who may not have family support, or may not have security in the workplace or their communities, or may be affected by past experiences of discrimination, violence and isolation. These experiences are all related by the participants in the book.”
“This is not a coffee table book but one in which I hope readers can find a trace of their own stories, reflect on their own stories, and feel some agency through the process.”
Lyn Fraser, who features in the book, says the seventies and eighties were a difficult time to identify as homosexual in Queensland.
“This girl and I, we were just friends going to the Valley. This car pulled up beside us. These young men pushed us over and called us dykes, lesbians and other names.
“I think being called a lesbian isn’t a big deal now, but at the time it was such a big deal to be called any sort of homosexual name. And then they drove off. We didn’t end up going to the club because I was too scared.”
“I love Queensland to bits. But at that time we were four million years behind everyone else,” she says.
The book is the print outcome of the A Matter of Time project— previously exhibited at the Brisbane Powerhouse and Museum of Brisbane— with Dr Faulkner hoping to develop the project further and produce a documentary film.
Sixteen of the photographs from the project will feature in the Gold Coast’s inaugural Glitter Festival. Dr Faulkner will also be speaking at After Dark: Hidden Histories, exploring queer aesthetics and the hidden histories of LGBTIQ people.
“According to the Queensland Aids Council, there are up to 370,000 Queenslanders who identify as LGBTIQ, but lesbian women are consistently underrepresented in both Queensland history and creative works. This project preserves important social history during a turning point of LGBTIQ rights in Australia,” she says.
The first edition of the book will be available in mid-2016 through University of Western Australia Publishing.