Queer Covers: Lesbian Survival Literature exhibits often-ignored information


Queer Covers: Lesbian Survival Literature is a traveling exhibit featuring the cover art of novels published between 1939 and 1965 that focus on lesbian storylines. These pieces were so heavily shunned at the time that women had to view them in secrecy and even burn or throw them away afterwards, according to the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

“Our educational institutes only get U.S. centric, privileged, heteronormic pieces,” said exhibit organizer April Parker of The Progressive Library Guild. “We disqualify all cultural, rich stories, and people get left out. That’s why this exhibit is so important.”

Curated by Morgan Gwenwald and Micki Trager of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the Queer Covers exhibit puts this often-ignored information proudly on display.

“It was a really great exhibit,” said junior Jodie Geddes. “It taught me a lot. I didn’t know that queer literature existed in so many ways, and if you look at it today a lot of people would think different things about it … and probably scrutinize it.”

The exhibit will remain at Guilford through April 13. Its permanent home is the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where a much larger collection of hundreds of covers is also housed. The exhibit, along with two others, travels around the U.S. and Europe.

“Holding this exhibit was a way to make sure that the library is held accountable in providing access to, as well as promoting and supporting, such literature and information,” said Parker. “The main idea is to make people ask, ‘What is normative? What is the normal way? (What is) normal literature?’ To bring this literature into everyday speech and an ongoing dialogue.”