Queeries display poster.

Queeries - A Curation of 2SLGBTQI+ Themes2023

October 2023 - January 2024

Located in the Link, 1st Floor, Murray Library
Curated by Joanne Abrahamson, Cheryl Avery, David Bindle, Alycia Bockus-Vanin, Lisa Carpenter, Tim Hutchinson, Sheila Laroque, Ann Liang, Sara Pilon, Alessio Ponzio, Amy Putnam, Lindsay Stokalko, Laurie Wing

The materials in this exhibit have been curated by a group of USask campus members including students, professors as well as library staff and faculty. The call out was for each person to individually curate a cabinet on a 2SLGBTQI+ theme of their choice using materials from the University Archives and Special Collections.


Display of queer sports materials.

Gay Sports Books – Curated by Joanne Abrahamson  (she/her)- Joanne Abrahamson has worked periodically at the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections since 2001.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, sports have been considered one of the preeminent signs of masculinity in world culture – indeed, women were originally excluded from participating. These biographies and autobiographies, found in the Neil Richards Collection of Gender and Sexual Diversity, are of queer Canadian and American athletes that were published in the 1990s-2010s. All were written after their sporting careers were over, and describe the homophobia, misogyny and racism experienced by these athletes. Trailblazing sporting events include the Gay Games and for lesbians, the Dinah Shore Golf Tournament.



Display case with queer archival materials.

Diverse Queer Cinema – Curated by Ann Liang (she/her) – My name is Ann Liang and I am the Librarian for the Edwards School of Business here at the University of Saskatchewan. I have been working with the Neil Richards Collection and the collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity in the archives for the past couple of years to get it back into the hands of the public and to make it more accessible for everyone. As a result of this we’ve created a YouTube play list.

For this display I chose the theme of “Diverse Queer Cinema”. The USask archives has an LGBT Movie Poster Collection with over 100+ posters and lobby cards, and while queer cinema often featured the stories of gay white men (think Brokeback Mountain), it was very surprising to me to find that the collection featured LGBTQ movies from other culture featuring actors of colour. It’s important to remember that the 2SLGBTQIA+ community exists all around the world, and promoting real, diverse, and LGBTQ+ representation in movies is all about showing genuine human experiences, making everyone feel like they belong, and spreading awareness. It helps break down stereotypes, boosts creativity, and can even create big changes in laws and society. Movies have a real impact and are a source of inspiration, all working together to make the world a better place.

Display case with queer archival materials. Where Theory Meets Practice: Queering and Historicizing Sexualities and Sexual Health – Curated by Sara Pilon (she/her) - My name is Sara Pilon, and I am in the fourth year of my Women’s and Gender Studies honors degree with a minor in History. Curating this collection has been such a great experience and has allowed me to merge my interests in histories and queer theory in a new and interesting way. I have loved this opportunity to learn about the University Archives and Neil Richards Collection and encourage other undergraduate students to check out these fantastic resources!

With this collection I explored various informal processes of education on topics relating to queer sexuality and sexual health. My curation was inspired by Daniel Marshall’s “Queer Breeding: Historicising Popular Culture, Homosexuality and Informal Sex Education.” Marshall applies Mikko Tuhkanen’s theory of queer breeding and uses a framework of methodological reconciliation to argue the need for contemporary queer scholars to engage in the historicising of queer sexuality. This queering and historicising of education is not only foundational to our contemporary queer scholarship but is subversive in nature. By undermining the privileging of certain knowledges over others and acknowledging the methodological practices of the past, we disrupt existing hierarchies of genders and sexualities which center heteronormative experiences. For this collection I chose materials which speak both directly and indirectly to topics of queer sexuality and sexual health. While some artifacts toe the line between our conceptions of formal and informal education, I looked to their creators and the extent to which they transcended traditional boundaries of education when determining their suitability.

Listen to the Rough Trade album on YouTube.

 Display case with queer archival materials.Wrestling – A Queer History – Curated by Lindsay Stokalko (she/her) - Lindsay Stokalko holds a BA, Hons. and MA from the University of Saskatchewan and has been involved in the heritage sector in Alberta and Saskatchewan for more than a decade. She currently works in the University Archives & Special Collections as the Archives Specialist and is dedicated to finding all the historic hunks in the collections.

Since rediscovering the 80s wresting of my childhood this year I knew I had to focus my display on the queer history of wrestling. Neil Richards was a ravenous wresting fan and amassed a huge and diverse collection of wrestling materials spanning the last century. It was nearly impossible to pick a reasonable amount of materials in order to present a narrative in the small display case, however when I started with the wresting biographies I noticed how the story that flowed through Gorgeous George, Ricky Starr, Adrian Street, Pat Patterson, and Chris Kanyon actually began with “the pompous heel” archetype and the Luchador wrestling tradition of “Exoticos” both of which challenge the typical masculinity found in wrestling. This curated selection of materials seen here tells a small part of this fascinating story. A queer history and a decidedly queer future! Read more information about the queer history of wrestling.

Display case of queer archival material.

Queer Anthologies- Curated by Lisa Carpenter (she/her) – Lisa has worked at the University Library since 2011 and has been working with the Richards Collection since 2013. She started out cataloguing books for the collection and in 2016 she joined the Archives where she began to work more closely with Neil and the books.

I first encountered the Neil Richards Collection while working in cataloguing. I can say I was not fully prepared for the content that showed up on my desk. One memorable day of working with Honcho magazine had me taking a very long walk, but I was intrigued. With so much variety in the collection itself, it was difficult to choose what to showcase. Then I remembered the anthologies. Lesbian, gay, leather, erotica, love stories, true stories, three-ways, bisexual, vampire and ghost stories, collections from old underground magazines, literature, two-spirit and more. If you can think of it, Neil probably found some of it. These titles are very much a snippet of all the incredible short stories we have in the Collection. 

Display cabinet featuring materials relating to Doug Wilson. The Doug Wilson Affair – Curated by Tim Hutchinson (he/him) – Tim Hutchinson is an archivist and Assistant Dean, University Archives and Special Collections. After undergraduate degrees from the Arts and Science Programme and Mathematics Department at McMaster University, he completed an M.Sc. in Mathematics at Queen’s University, and received an M.S. in Information (specializing in Archives and Records Management) from the University of Michigan. Originally from Toronto but with prairie roots, he started at the University of Saskatchewan in 1997.

The Doug Wilson Affair is well known in the annals of University of Saskatchewan history, and in the history of Saskatchewan human rights more broadly. It takes on renewed meaning with current events. There were recent celebrations relating to the 30th anniversary of the amendments to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code to recognize sexual orientation – which took place almost 20 years after a court ruled that Doug Wilson was not protected. And this exhibition is being mounted as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”, which overrides both the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights, is being debated in the Saskatchewan legislature. An important reminder that with these records we are documenting hard-gained rights that can never be taken for granted. The Doug Wilson Affair is also a good example of a story documented in the University Archives’ records from several perspectives, including Doug Wilson himself, university administrators, and activists.

Display case with queer archival materials.

Health and Wellness – Curated by Cheryl Avery (she/her) – Cheryl Avery is the Archivist at the University Archives & Special Collections

Because how we treat each other, individually and collectively, matters. Because the laws we pass, matter. Because having a safe and supportive community, matters. Because words, social stigma, bullying – all take their toll, and can cause ripple effects of harm.

“We know this. This isn’t anything new. Mind, body, emotion, and spirit are all connected. The stories we tell ourselves can heal us or kill us…. create a new story, an inclusive story where no one is left out… We all need to be in a story that tells us that we are wanted, that we are cared for, and that we belong.” – Harold R. Johnson, The Power of Story.

Neil Richards was a friend and a colleague. I loved him for his gentle wit, his curiosity, his many enthusiasms – and I admired him for his courage in consistently and clearly speaking out against homophobia in its many guises, and for his steadfast determination to ensure the history of the LGBTQ2S+ community was preserved. I miss him still.

Display case with queer archival materials.

Two Spirit – Curated by Sheila Laroque (she/her) – Sheila Laroque is the current Indigenous Studies and Government Information librarian with USask Libraries. She is Métis; with her Métis coming to her from her father’s side. Her father is Ken Laroque, who is originally from Duck Lake, SK. Her mother has roots of both Irish and Scottish heritage, and she is originally from southwestern Ontario. Before library school, Sheila has dropped out of fashion school in Vancouver, and tried on many different hats and professions. Coming home to USask has been a welcome change; as she gets to participate in illuminating projects such as this one.

Two-spirit history has often been thought of as “being hidden” within archives and within our collective recognition of such stories. We are often told that the term “Two-Spirit” has been reclaimed; and that people who were born with both a feminine and a masculine spirit have always been revered in First Nations communities. By utilizing some of the documents from certain fonds, mainly the Patricia Montour fonds and the Cecil King fonds, I wanted to see if we could find some documents that are able to speak to this “hidden past”. How hard would it be to see that which has been shamefully hidden for so long? These were not rhetorical questions that I was seeking to answer; and the answer to my questions was – not hard at all. By reading within and between and all around the lines of certain types of histories (dare I say – queering them?) we are able to find what has always been known and told. Two-Spirit people are a reflection of the way that Indigenous peoples have been seeing and interpreting the worlds around them for thousands of years. They’re presence and their knowledges can be seen within the unpublished papers of Cecil King, the collected documentation of human rights materials (and violations, and material violation of said human rights) can be found extensively in the Patricia Montour fonds. Finally, the Avenue Community Center fonds helps us to understand the story of community-based organizations and the grassroots efforts that have been made to take us back to a time when spirit, sexuality and belonging to our communities, lands and ourselves was all done in seamless motions. The health reports showing the need to go beyond just focusing on HIV/AIDS transmission; and the need for healthcare providers to acknowledge patients as whole peoples, in order to truly be able to foster health in terms of wellness. Such reports could have easily been written in the current context of 2023, with calls to action for politicians, health care providers and educators to see the individuals that are before them as a whole person, who contextualized and supported by the communities that claim them.

Display case with queer archival materials.Music – Curated by Alycia Bockus-Vanin (she/her) – Alycia Bockus-Vanin is a Library Assistant with the University Archives and Special Collections.  Her educational background is in Applied Museum Studies (Algonquin College), Communication Studies (Athabasca University) and she is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Alycia worked for the British Columbia Ombudsperson in Victoria BC for several years before returning home to Saskatoon.

Music has the power to move us – literally and figuratively! Expressions of the human experience captured in music, song and lyrics are a powerful way to connect with others as well as explore our own lived experiences. Music can be used to make a statement, inspire, resist, escape and more. The vinyl records in the collection are what first caught my attention, but there are so many different types of materials to explore, touching on many of the ways that music fills our lives: songbooks, sheet music, recorded music, biographies and more by and about queer artists. Classical, disco, choral, folk, instrumental, rock, opera, pop and more are all reflected. In gathering these materials I found some of the artist names were familiar to me but others I was seeing for the first time. I hope this small selection may serve as a jumping-off point for discovering a new artist (or two!) or an invitation to revisit an old favourite.

Display case with queer archival materials.

Queer Graphica: Graphic novels, comic books, zines, manga – Curated by David Bindle (he/him) - David is the Special Collections Librarian at the University Archives & Special Collections

Henrik Ibsen is credited with coining the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If this adage is true, each of these items in this Queer graphica collection might be considered a literary heavyweight. The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity is home to approximately 350 works Queer graphica in the forms of graphic novel, comic books, comic strip anthologies, zines, manga.  Included are stories ranging from serious fictional drama, to personal reflective narratives, to wicked satirical humor. Above all, the stories dwell on personal relationships – wonderful, toxic, impossible, inevitable, uncontrollable, complex and poignant.

Three posters of pulp covers.

Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Pulp Literature – Curated by Laurie Wing (she/her) - Laurie is the University Archives & Special Collections Operations Manager and proud mom of a queer kid.

The Richards Collection, contains rare and fragile titles and collections dealing with sexual and gender diversity, including a huge selection of queer mystery and detective fiction, and titles of both nonfiction and fiction, including pulp novels which predate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement. This collection includes the following subseries:

  • Canadian Gay and Lesbian Collection
  • Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Pulp Literature
  • Queer Mystery and Detective Fiction

You can explore this collection in the library catalogue.

Display case with queer archival materials.

The History of Drag Shows and Female Impersonators – Curated by Amy Putnam (she/her) – Amy Putnam is a library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections. She has her Library Technician Diploma (SIAST ‘12) and a B.A. in English with a minor in history (USask ’16). She has worked at the University of Saskatchewan since 2013, and has been at the University Archives and Special Collections since 2014.

For my contribution to this exhibit, I decided to showcase some of our materials relating to the history of drag and female impersonation. I chose this topic because when we decided to do this exhibit I had just finished listening to a podcast that explored the history of female impersonation and drag, and while a lot of it was familiar to me, I also learned a lot of new information. I knew we had a lot of resources in the University Archives and Special Collections relating to that very topic. If you would like to listen to that podcast episode to learn more about the history of drag and female impersonation, check out the two part series called “Early Drag Queens”, by the podcast American Hysteria.


Display case with queer archival materials.

History of Gender and Sexuality Monographs & 1950s: Between Respectable Homophiles and Alluring Beefcakes – Curated by Alessio Ponzio (he/him)- Alessio received his PhD in history and politics from the Universitá Roma Tre and his second PhD in women’s studies and history from the University of Michigan. Ponzio is the author of several articles and two books. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG-Mainz), at the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities (Wellesley College) and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is Assistant Professor in Modern European History and History of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and Professor in the History of Homosexuality at the Università di Torino. Ponzio is a member of the Queer Caucus of the American Association of Italian Studies and cofounder of the LGBT+ History Month Italia (organized for the first time in April 2022) and of the International Committee on LGBTQ+ History Months. After two years in the Italian team, Ponzio joined from July 2023 the 2SLGBTQ+ History Month Canada team, working with Meryem Benslimane. Ponzio is part of the editorial team of the Italian online magazine Gay.it and is currently working with UNAR – the Italian National Anti-Racial Discrimination Office – to create a website about LGBTQ+ history and queer issues in Italy.

This display highlights two different facets of the Neil Richard’s Collection. Not only is it home to hundreds of monographs on the history of gender and sexuality (some of which are shown on the upper shelf), but it also houses a vast array of rare primary source materials. On the middle shelf, for example, are three issues of the Mattachine Review, which was published by the Mattachine Society, a homophile organization active in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. The struggle for civil rights and the portrayal of homosexuals as respectable individuals was the focus of this organization's magazine. On the same shelf and below, you can see some examples of "physique magazines" - or "beefcake magazines" - published in the USA and Canada in the 1950s. These publications were devoted to physique photography and featured images of young and attractive men in athletic poses, usually minimally clothed. These magazines were ostensibly devoted to fitness, health, and bodybuilding, which allowed them to circumvent censorship laws. However they were mainly targeted towards queer men who, at the time had no access to pornography, and ended up being essential sources of erotic imagery. Homophile magazines in North America, which aimed for respectability, would not publish images of half-naked or naked men. However, homosexuals were able to indulge their erotic fantasies incognito through the vast number of "beefcake magazines" available. If you want to learn more about this story you can read Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement by David K. Johnson.


You can learn more about these collections in the Sexual and Gender Diversity Research Guide.

Please contact us at ua.sc@usask.ca if you would like to view any of these materials.