ONE Archives presents an exhibition at the Nottingham Contemporary
Small Collection Room
Nottingham, United Kingdom
The Small Collections Room displays rare archive materials from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles. Founded in 1952, ONE is the oldest collection of its kind in the world and the oldest archive LGBTQ organization in the US.
The Cabinets will be filled with an eclectic display of materials from the archives. These include artworks and personal papers, some never seen before, by poet and painter Sidney Bronstein (1921–1967). Bronstein worked in Los Angeles from the 1950s onwards where he became actively involved in the city’s gay life. He drew and painted portraits of muscle-bound men in uniform who he met while cruising downtown Los Angeles. He meticulously recorded information about these encounters with servicemen in a 1950s accountants’ ledger, which was later used in the controversial studies on human sexual behaviour carried out by Dr. Alfred Kinsey. While given very few opportunities to exhibit his work, Bronstein continued to paint throughout his life.
Bronstein was also an early volunteer at ONE Magazine, the first widely distributed magazine for homosexuals in the US – a landmark publication recognized internationally by the LGBTQ activist community. For years issues were sold hand-to-hand, and for many ONE was the only connection to a wider gay community during the repressive McCarthy era in the United States. Copies of ONE Magazine and self-published zines from ONE will be on display. Radical topics include “Are Homosexuals Reds?” (1953), “Are Homosexuals Neurotics” (1955), “Men who Find Lesbians Desirable” (1959), “Homosexual Marriage?” (1953), and “The Homosexual Villain” (1955), authored by the journalist and novelist Normal Mailer.
Sheet music from the Collection of Ralph W. Judd, who gathered materials reflecting America’s changing sensibility toward cross-dressing in the 20th century, is also on display. With over 1000 different scores, titles include songs such as “My Regular Girl is a Regular Feller,” “I Only Want a Buddy… Not a Sweetheart,” and “I Want a Girl (Just like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad).” The display will also include a number of materials related to Julian Eltinge, a well-known female impersonator who performed in American vaudeville performances and was one of the highest paid actors during the early 20th century.
Trade Secrets is organized by David Frantz, Curator at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.