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PRIDE: Non-Profit Invisible Histories Project Looks to Capture and Share LGBTQ Stories From Years Past in Mississippi

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the month-long celebration of LGBTQ pride comes to a close, a Southern-based non-profit is working to expand the lessons to be learned from the stories and histories of marginalized Mid-Southerners.

The challenging work of finding, preserving and telling Pride and LGBTQ stories of Southerners never stops for the people with the Invisible Histories Project.

“It helps us to get a better picture of who we have been so we know who we are because truthfully without access to your past it’s very difficult to imagine your future,” Joshua Burford, Co-Founder of the Invisible Histories Project said.

The Invisible Histories Project is a 501c3 non-profit working with southern Universities to collect, archive and exhibit the histories of LGBTQ people in the South.

IHP was co-founded by award winning historian Joshua Burford in Alabama, and has since expanded to Georgia and as of 2019, Mississippi, where the IHP works alongside the University of Mississippi in Oxford along with several other schools.

“There’s so much cool LGBTQ history that we’re just now beginning to scratch the surface of,” Burford said.

IHP has uncovered thousands of pieces of Pride history, from photos and pamphlets to videos of the first lesbian and gay Pride March in Birmingham, Alabama in 1989.

“There’s this sense that the South has been behind but that is just a lie,” Burford said. “We’ve never been behind, there was a pride festival in the South 2 years after the one in New York. We had an LGBT center in Alabama in 1978.”

IHP plans to continue expanding the scope of it’s archiving goal, with work starting in Florida soon.

There have been discussions of beginning the preserving process in Tennessee and Arkansas as well.

The ultimate goal would be the creation of a museum to share these untold stories.

“People want to be able to see what this history looks like,” Burford said. “I want people to come in and look at these drag Queen dresses from the 60′s and look at these publications we’re digitizing.”

Burford encourages Mid-Southerners who identify as LGBTQ to make their own additions to IHP’s growing collection.

To you can contact the IHP at their website: https://invisiblehistory.org/

You can also find their Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/invisiblehistoriesproject/

And their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/invisiblehistoriesproject

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