In celebration of Pride Month 2017, the Fales Library & Special Collection is highlighting some pieces of their collection that come to us from the LGBTQ community. Every Wednesday for the rest of the month of June, we will be posting curated selections of our materials.
At the Fales Library, one can find an extraordinary array of materials, not limited to the typical archival fare of papers, photographs and audiovisual material. Last week we looked at the Alan Klein Papers which, in addition to clippings and ephemera related to ACT UP and Queer Nation, holds t-shirts worn by protesters marching against homophobia. This week, we’re putting the spotlight on another evocative object from our collections: a skateboard from the Outpunk Archive.
Part of the Fales Library’s Riot Grrrl Collection, the Outpunk Archive documents the operations of Outpunk, which was both a zine and a queercore record label. Outpunk was founded by Matt Wobensmith in 1992, drawing inspiration from Riot Grrrl, as a platform through which to promote queer voices in the hypermasculine, often homophobic, hardcore scene. In addition to the skateboard, the archive contains zine masters, audio recordings, and ephemera related to Outpunk.
Like hardcore, skating was a counterculture which was nevertheless infected with hypermasculinity, misogyny, and homophobia. Adorned with queer-positive stickers, this skateboard in turn performs the mission of Outpunk, giving representation to queer voices from within the counterculture. It is an extremely rich research subject, despite its unusual form.
Mentioning the skateboard in a 2015 interview, former Fales Senior Archivist Lisa Darms explained, “at the Fales we have a very broad definition of what a ‘document’ is.” With the help of NYU’s Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department, Fales strives to preserve objects, such as the skateboard or Alan Klein’s t-shirts, which have clear research value in their materiality.
The Outpunk Archive was donated to the Fales Library by Matt Wobensmith in 2010, and is available to all interested researchers. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please visit the Fales webpage or email email@example.com.
Special thanks to the staff at Fales, especially Librarian Nicholas Martin and student worker Gina Modero, for their amazing work on this series!