Scope and Content
Title: Queer Nation Records,
Date (inclusive): 1990-1996 (bulk dates 1990-1991)
Accession number: 93-2
Extent: 1 linear foot
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
San Francisco, California.
The bulk of the records were received in 1993 (#93-2).
Collection is open for research.
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay and Lesbian
Historical Society of Northern California.
There is one videotape in the collection.
[Identification of item], Queer Nation Records, 93-2, The Gay and Lesbian Historical
Society of Northern California.
Queer Nation San Francisco was a direct action group with the purpose of advancing queer
rights. Founded in July of 1990, one month after New York City's Queer Nation, it
deployed tactics similar to those of the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT-UP), namely
street protests, postering, and other "unapologetic," "in your face" political
demonstration. Like ACT-UP, it lacked clear boundaries of membership and had no official
leadership structure. Weekly meetings, held at the Mission District's Women's Building,
were open to all, and decisions were made by consensus. Meetings included reports and
proposals from focus groups, which met during or outside the general meeting to
concentrate on their affinity, such as police violence or activist art.
However, unlike ACT-UP, Queer Nation was not oriented toward ending the AIDS crisis.
Rather its general objective was to reverse the precieved trend of increasing homophobia
which had followed the AIDS pandemic. Also, Queer Nation organized under the polymorphous
identity of "queer" which was intended to be more inclusive of diversity and less
exclusive of cultural (as opposed to legal) action than other, more "assimilationist" gay
or lesbian groups.
Among the more prominent focus groups of Queer Nation SF were LABIA (Lesbians And
Bi-women In Action), United Colors of Queer Nation, UBIQUITOUS (Uppity Bi Queers United
In Their Overtly Unconventional Sexuality), Queer Planet, and DORIS SQUASH (Defending Our
Rights In the Streets, Super Queers United Against Savage Heterosexism). Much internal
communication was accomplished through Queerline, a voice mail service, and Queer Week, a
No records exist of the group's dissolution, although there is documentation of internal
disputes among active members in the summer of 1991 which followed a controversial
political action outside the home of then San Francisco Board of Supervisors member
Scope and Content
The Queer Nation San Francisco records (1 linear foot) document the weekly meetings,
regular political and cultural actions, and press coverage of this short-lived but
prominent coalition of the early 1990s. The records range from the group's inception in
1990 until 1991 (with the addition of an open letter published in 1996 intended to
clarify the group's founding). The records are divided into five series: chronological,
visuals, focus groups, communications, and non-Queer Nation San Francisco.
Title: chronological series
is comprised primarily of files
documenting each weekly general meeting. Interspersed are files documenting actions and
workshops sponsored by the group between meetings. Some consecutive general meeting
records are combined. Folders contain agendas, notes from meetings, newsletters,
proposals for action, notices of up-coming events, and press clippings in this order.
Some files contain records of topical discussions beyond the usual business, for
instance, a forum on race and racism in the queer community (December 5, 1990), an
effective media outreach workshop (February 2, 1990), a forum on sexism and women's
issues (March 9, 1991), a discussion of an action at Mayor Agnos' house (March 27, 1991),
and a forum on HIV presented by 4H: Happy, Healthy, Hip Homosexuals (April 3, 1991).
Title: chronological series
were organized by a Queer Nation
archivist and are incomplete. The contents of each chronological file have been
maintained, although items have been re-arranged to form a consistent order. Stickers
distributed at meetings have been removed for preservation purposes to a folder in the
visuals series. Non-Queer Nation SF fliers distributed at meetings have been compiled in
a folder in the final series. Records which were not originally included in the
chronological files have been organized by subject in later series. Within these
subjects, items have been arranged in chronological order when possible.
Title: visuals series
contains examples of Queer Nation's distinctive
graphic style, which was primarily circulated through small, brightly colored stickers.
The photographic holdings contain news photographs from Queer Nation-sponsored shopping
trips to suburban malls. The photographs are in several forms: black and white prints,
contact sheets, and negatives.
Title: focus groups series
is comprised of files documenting the
activities of several prominent committees within Queer Nation, which often functioned
independently of the larger group or which undertook to inform the larger group of their
area of interest. Included are: printed materials intended to educate Queer Nationalists
about racism, essays collected for a forum on bisexuality, and fliers and postcards for a
campaign against Amnesty International's exclusion of queer human rights issues.
Title: communications series
contains materials documenting both
internal and external communication of the group. The Queerline scripts document the
regularly up-dated messages broadcast to callers of this Queer Nation phone information
service. Included in each script are calendars of upcoming actions, schedules of upcoming
focus group meetings, and emergency activations. The Queer Week newsletters are filed
with a fact sheet from its publisher, the Media Committee of Queer Nation San Francisco,
describing its distribution, circulation, contributors, content, purpose, and production.
Included are Volume I, numbers 1-14, and Volume II, number 1. Queer and Out, also
published by the Media Committee, is a compilation of coming out stories in celebration
of National Coming Out Day 1990. Press clippings from September 1990 to March 1991
primarily document Queer Nation actions in the Bay Area, a significant number of which
pertain to the GHOST (Grand Homosexual Outrage at Sickening Televangelists) focus group's
opposition to a city-wide "Halloween exorcism" planned by two ministers in 1990. The
miscellaneous file contains unattributed, undated notes as well as a Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) survey containing opinions on the use of the term
Title: non-Queer Nation SF series
includes materials from other Queer
Nation chapters in the United States, including a file on the development of the original
Queer Nation in New York as a response to that city's rash of anti-queer violence during
the summer of 1990. This series also contains a file of fliers which were distributed at
weekly general meetings. Since these meetings were fairly open, it is unclear to what
degree the groups and activities promoted in these fliers were associated with Queer
Nation, although it is likely that there was significant overlap in some cases.
Queer Nation related collections
Title: Brian Bringardner Papers, 92-16
Title: Gerard Koskovich Papers, 91-20
[documents related to an attempt to revive the group in 1992]
Title: Bob Smith Papers, 93-21
ACT-UP related collections
Title: Ephemera files on ACT-UP
Title: Stephen Fish Papers, 91-19
Title: Sheldon Ramsdell, 96-28
Title: Bob Smith Papers, 93-21
Title: Hank Wilson Papers, 96-2
Other Contemporary Direct Action Groups
Title: AIDS/ARC Vigil Records, 91-5
Title: AIDS/ARC Vigil II Records, 94-21
Title: Meg Barnett Papers [Lesbians Against Police Violence], 89-5
Title: Boy with Arms Akimbo/Girl with Arms Akimbo Records, 96-41
Title: Forget-Me-Nots Records, 89-10
Title: Lesbian Avengers Records, 96-10