So, I only went for one day of the conference, driving to Tallahassee and back in the same day because I’ve already used and abused my allotment of travel funds from work this fiscal year and I couldn’t afford it out of pocket either. But we proposed a panel discussion to the Society of Florida Archivists conference, and got accepted, and so we had to go! It was me an my research partner Evie, and we were talking about our survey of usage and accessibility of LGBTQ archival materials (which I’ve talked about here before) with half an hour of open discussion after to get feedback and stories from the audience. We assumed we would be one of many, or at least a couple, panels at the same time. Not so, we were the only panel at our time and we gave it in the main room of the conference! We did not discover this until the day of, so we were naturally that much more nervous. But it went great! Many people came up to us afterwards and said how much they enjoyed our presentation and discussion, and the discussion itself was robust.
We talked about the new anti-lgbtq laws and anti-education laws that have been passed this past session a little bit, and then we asked the gathered archivists what effects they were seeing already from the political climate. And folks are scared, but they’re also mad. They’re scared not for themselves mostly, but for the students and interns and lower-tier folks who might be caught in the crossfire if bad actors try to retaliate for something they do in the archives. The self-censorship has already started, and is only likely to get worse with regards to LGBTQ materials here in Florida. Archivists aren’t necessarily refusing or expunging materials or anything. But they’re choosing not to put them on display, or choosing not to digitize items, not to create events around items, that sort of thing. Not everybody, and not all the time. But it is making people cautious, and that caution is a form of self censorship that cannot be “blamed” on any particular law in a court of law. After all, the laws aren’t saying archives CAN’T use these things (yet). It’s not DeathSantis’s fault if people decide not to use them, right? (Obviously this is the heaviest of sarcasm. It very much is DeathSantis’s fault and he is a fascist looking to censor anything he doesn’t like).
Anyway, I got to meet a lot of great people at the conference, and use my new little mini-zine-slash-business-cards to hand out to people (an idea I stole wholesale from Violet Fox.) People loved the zines, and it was really great to use them to connect to people a little bit more! Anyway, if anyone is reading this from the conference, it was nice to meet you yesterday, please say hi!