Late July is the perfect time to briefly retreat from the wild times of summer partying, hole up in your bedroom with the AC cranked up too high, and beef up on LGBT history.
The following social media accounts are all devoted to different aspects of queer or LGBT history—people, places, and events that everyone should know about but aren’t exactly taught in elementary school. While you can dive into these amazing and informative accounts any time of year, we recommend holing up summer-goth style in a dark room during the hottest part of day, grabbing a cold glass of rosé or lemonade, and snuggling under the covers as inspiring queer heroes (queeroes?) scroll by.
1) The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History (Tumblr)
While this traveling pop-up museum brings installations and events to IRL queer spaces, it also keeps an active Tumblr page that often features historical figures like Jackie “Moms” Mabley, a black butch 1920s vaudevillian who is also the subject of a new documentary by Whoopi Goldberg.
2) Ubuntu Biography Project (Facebook)
This awesome archive was created out of “a desire to tell the largely untold stories of LGBTQ men and women of African descent, and to celebrate their remarkable contributions to our world.” Each post is a photo and biography of an inspiring community leader—recent posts featured artist Kalup Linzy, civil rights activist Ruth C. Ellis, and even lesser-known locals like New York City HIV activist George Bellinger.
3) H-E-R-S-T-O-R-Y (Instagram and Tumblr)
This lesbian and feminist-focused account digs up incredible, rare photos from all over the world. Recent posts include a picture of a “Singaporean and Malaysian Bisexual & Lesbians” march banner, a hand-drawn copy of a “Oberlin lesbian survival map,” and a slew of photos taken on “womyn’s land,” those 1970s women-only communes where buff babes tended flocks of sheep and chopped wood while topless. Sigh.
4) Lost Womyn’s Space (Blogspot)
Speaking of womyn, this exhaustive and magical archive documents women-only clubs, colleges, bars, and other associations throughout the centuries. Lost Womyn’s Space always manages to find cool old ladies’ joints that no one has ever heard of—like a recently dug-up “bookie joint for women” in 1930s Chicago that carved out a place for crime-lovin’ broads who just wanted to place a few bets on the horse races. The site’s archivist is mysterious, anonymous, and super hard to track down (I’ve tried). One can only assume that the webmaster is a women’s studies professor somewhere, because this archive is intense.
5) A Queer History of Fashion (Facebook)
You’ll wanna go ham on your closet after poring through these photos from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s queer fashion collection. While the account was created to supplement a 2013 exhibit at the New York college, it’s regularly updated with inspiring style posts and features an extensive display of collection items that range from Madonna’s cone bras to gender-bending suits worn by Victorian dandies.
6) Transhistorical (Tumblr)
With a tagline like “transcending historical boundaries,” you know this Tumblr is a curated mix of both legendary historical figures and the legendary children of today. One post might delve into the history of Hijras (Muslim trans women) and Nandis (the “female husbands” of Western Kenya), while the next celebrates a modern-day trans activist hero like Reina Gossett. There’s plenty on Stonewall-inciting Marsha P. Johnson, but Transhistorical will introduce you to people like Indian classical dancer Mesma S. Belsare, recently honored as the “Gender Hero of Boston.”
7) Fuck Yeah, Queer Vintage (Tumblr)
No list of LGBT history archives would be complete without this standout. It will introduce you to medieval illustrations showing two dudes making out, a 1970s pride march banner that reads “Let Every Pansy Bloom,” and relationship tidbits about people you totally didn’t even know were gay—like Margaret Wise Brown, author of children’s books Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.
8) Lesbian Herstory Archives (Facebook and archival website)
This is a triple whammy. Not only do they post some historical gems from the collection on Facebook, there’s also a hefty online archive and a Brooklyn office that allows visitors to dig through the stacks and stumble across rare finds. Created in 1975, the archive is the world’s largest collection of lesbian memorabilia, photos, videos, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. If it happened in the lesbian world, it’s on a shelf here—both in the IRL and virtual sense.
9) Gay History (Pinterest)
Oh, the many boards of gay history photos on Pinterest. It’s actually way too many to fit into one post—Pinterest appears to be the venue of choice for LGBT history buffs to display their rare photo collections. This particular board, curated by user Dimitri Toscas, is devoted to seriously adorable gay male couples from days of yore. Another gay history board worth following is curated by filmmaker Matt Wolf (Teenage, Wild Combination), who pins everything from vintage lesbian pulp fiction covers to archival photos of 1950s-era drag queens backstage.
Photo via National Museum of American History/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)