One Institute hosted “History Within Us,” a one-day exhibition showcasing creative research projects by six LGBTQ+ high school student leaders from the Institute’s 2023-24 Youth Ambassadors for Queer History program on Saturday, January 29, 2024, at One Gallery in West Hollywood. Each student made a presentation describing their projects before a packed room.
Los Angeles County Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath, and City of West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson, City of West Hollywood Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers, presented each student with certificates of recognition for their efforts.
Led by Programs Manager Trevor Ladner, “History Within Us” is part of One Institute’s Youth Ambassadors for Queer History program. The goal is to ignite LGBTQ+ high school students’ passion for queer and trans history through in-depth archival research, field trips, workshops, and conversations with LGBTQ+ scholars, activists, artists, and community leaders. Utilizing materials from the digital collections at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, as well as the insights and skills they gain throughout the semester-long program, students are encouraged to create a final project that showcases both their creativity and historical knowledge.
“I’m so deeply grateful to be in a community that values inclusivity and invests resources in queer and trans youth,” said Ladner. “It’s crucial for young LGBTQ people to have these kinds of spaces, inside and outside of school, where they can find mentorship and friendship, learn about the challenging and joyful parts of our history, and find pathways of opportunity.”
“Walking around this room and seeing history, seeing our experiences, and seeing everything lived out through our current generation, our future generation, our past generations, but always coming out and remembering our history–that’s what the City of West Hollywood has done so well,” said Mayor Erickson. “We’re going to keep doing that with the support of One Archives… We are dedicated to preserving our history and pushing it forward. This space matters, and that’s my brother’s faces pattern.”
“I think it’s more important than ever that we have a connection to our history,” said Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers. “I’m really grateful that it’s another set of young leaders in our community that are helping us forge a deeper connection to our past so we can better move forward. The creativity that we see on these walls is inviting us into it, and I think that’s important because the work ahead is serious.”
“Thanks to the One Institute for making today possible,” said LA County Chair Horvath. “This is so inspiring and moving. We had the opportunity to work with One Institute on a very beautiful project from the beach you may have visited, what is sometimes known as Will Rogers Beach, but we know it as Ginger Rogers, now officially signified by beautifully painted lifeguard towers, in partnership with the One Institute with plaques that captured highlighted moments of our LGBTQ history in Los Angeles County and up the beach. We thank you for your partnership and making it not just something that people can see but an actual experience and understanding of history. The more we create opportunities like these to really understand what the history has been a can help inform and support our future in ways that we know and in ways that we’ll never understand but are so critically important.”
“History Within Us” included a digital zine on lesbian publications in the 1960s and 1970s, an investigation into the impact of corporate funding on grassroots LGBTQ+ activism, and a deep dive into LGBTQ+ student organizations in colleges and high schools, among others. The installation also included a “Letters to ONE” display, featuring students’ responses to archival letters sent by ONE Magazine readers in the 1950s and 1960s. Visitors were invited to view the exhibition while enjoying light refreshments, including rainbow and transgender flag-colored conchas from the LGBTQ-allied Los Angelitos Bakery.
Learn more about Youth Ambassadors for Queer History at oneinstitute.org/youth-ambassadors-for-queer-history.
About the Projects
“Queerly Important: Exploring the Impact of Queer Student Unions” by Cora, 15, is an interactive photo gallery that examines how LGBTQ+ student groups— such as the Gay and Lesbian Student Union at Los Angeles City College or Project 10 in LAUSD— have served as vital resources for inclusivity, expression, education, and support of LGBTQ+ youth from the 1960s to today.
“Follow the Money Trail” by Luca, 15, is a visual presentation that explores funding of LGBTQ+ movement from the 1980s to the present, questioning how sources of LGBTQ+ funding today, such as large corporate grants, have impacted movement goals compared to the grassroots fundraising of activists such as ACT UP Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Dear Robert” by Jojo, 16, is a poetry series that probes various perspectives and ethical questions in the case of Robert Rosenkrantz, who— as a Calabasas High School student during the anti-gay hysteria of the 1980s AIDS crisis— was incarcerated for murder in 1986 after fatally shooting a homophobic bully, his case garnering national LGBTQ+ attention through an article in The Advocate.
“Forever Queer: The Hidden Rainbow Inside of Neverland” by Star, 17, is a visual art series that celebrates the trailblazing performance of Maude Adams— actress, production designer, and lesbian— who originated the role of Peter Pan on Broadway in 1905, a story which itself continues to inspire young, queer imagining.
“Here Before Us” by Joshua, 18, is an ofrenda, or altar, honoring the storied lives of queer Latinx individuals and institutions in California, including candidate and drag queen José Sarria, activist and journalist Jeanne Córdova, the popular nightclub Circus Disco, and Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos.
“Those Lesbians are Everywhere” by Sophie, 18, is a digital zine that celebrates lesbian activism and identity in the 1970s through 1990s through an exploration of queer women’s publications, including The Lesbian Tide and Kitchen Table Press, as well as the role of lesbian organizers in political groups, such as the National Organization for Women and ACT UP Los Angeles.
Learn more at oneinstitute.org, and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @oneinstitutela.