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Nelson Museum officially opens Queer Archive as permanent exhibit

The Nelson Museum Archives and Gallery officially opened its permanent exhibit celebrating LGBTQ2S+ history on June 14.

LGBTQ2S+ people in the West Kootenay over the past 50 years have made history just by living their lives.

That was filmmaker Amy Bohigian's message to a gathering at the Nelson Museum Archives and Gallery on June 13. They were assembled to celebrate the opening of the permanent historical exhibit entitled Kootenay Pride: We Love a Parade.

"At the time, they probably didn't even think they were making history," Bohigian said. "They were just literally trying to do what they thought was right to seek equity in their communities."

The opening of the exhibit featured a viewing of the 10-minute version of Bohigian's film Queering the Interior, which depicts the history of the LGBTQ2S+ struggle for rights in the West Kootenay, including interviews with many of the pioneers of the movement reaching back to the 1970s.

Bohigian said many of the people in the film suffered from extreme discrimination in Nelson and she spoke of them as pioneers who "demanded that they be seen" and created "a robust LGBTQIA+ community here."

The museum exhibit and archive consists of a historical timeline on the walls of a museum stairwell, plus records of meetings and political action, personal stories, photograph albums, videos, and posters of shows and events dating back decades. 

It was developed from material that volunteer archivist Michael Wicks has collected for decades.

He told the gathering that the exhibit is still a work in progress and many people in Nelson possess items that should be included in it.

"All of you have some kind of an archive item that I want look through," he said. "You may have a digital record of last year's Pride parade, you may have a ticket to a drag show. I don't know what you've got, but I want it all."

He said the archive will keep growing as more people contribute to it and as society keeps changing.

"Your day-to-day life is the next archive, 20 years from now," he said.

Wicks recently won a provincial heritage award for his years of volunteer work in collecting the museum's Queer Archives that have now become the new exhibit.











Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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