The best place to study the history of the Belarusian LGBT movement is Minneapolis

Submitted by Volunteers without Borders, Belarus

The prestigious LGBT collection at the Minnesota University's Elmer L. Andersen Library contains dozens of unique artifacts on the history of the Belarusian movement including books, magazines, newspaper clips, photographs, and personal archival materials.

“While attending Creating Change conference in Minneapolis this February, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies,” said Viachaslau Bortnik, LGBT activist from Belarus.

It is one the 10 largest GLBT collections in the world, with some 40,000 books and items, in a wide variety of media. The collection is international in scope and has materials in approximately 58 languages. It covers all time periods, from a 4,000-year-old phallic statuette from Egypt, up to current editions of GLBT periodicals. Although books are the core of the collection, substantial sections include textiles, glassware, film, music, art works, and three-dimensional objects such as event buttons and furniture. The collection includes unpublished manuscripts, vertical files, and periodicals from all over the world. It celebrated 10th anniversary last year.

Cooperation with Tretter Collection has started back in 2006 when Belarusian activist met Jean-Nickolaus Tretter at the Moscow Pride.

“After short discussion with Jean I realized how important was to document our history, especially in the countries like Belarus where new groups and initiatives grow like mushrooms every few months and disappear in vain in homophobic environment. I started sending packages to Minneapolis and I’m still doing this,” said Viachaslau Bortnik.

“Unfortunately this kind of artifacts is not safe or even dangerous to keep in today’s Belarus. Police regularly raids offices and apartments of not only LGBT, but any democratic activists. It’s a shame. But we have to preserve our history and it’s great that the Tretter Collection is giving us a hand,” added Bortnik.

More information on the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies can be found here

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