On April 11, Emergent Savannah hosted a conversation about the LGBT community at the Sentient Bean. The title of the conversation was “An Oral History of LGBT Savannah.” If you’ve never heard of Emergent Savannah, they are a collaboration of local activists whose stated mission is to advocate for the larger community through thoughtful conversation and personal action.
Being asked to participate in the panel came to me as a surprise. While I have lived in Savannah for the last nearly 15 years, I would not dare think that I could give you a good oral history of the LGBT issues in Savannah. However, once it was made clear that I would be representing a younger group I took it as an honor. This is especially true given the other panelists, Patty Latham and Jamie Maury. Both have a long history of activism and organization with the community. Their stories taught me things that I didn’t know about the community in Savannah and its efforts to live a life without the fear and repression that they sometimes knew.
It was also great to see a number of younger members of the community there wanting to learn about the community. Ultimately, it is incumbent on us to make sure that the communities total history (much of which wasn’t presented) is passed on. From them, the next generation of activists and organizers will come, and their knowledge of what has happened to get us to the present will be vital. At the same time we should be willing to listen to those younger voices about what it is they would like to see in the community.
During the conversation, an artist worked on a pictorial representation of the discussion. Their work was presented at the end of the conversation to serve as a reminder of what was said that night. I would hope that we are able to look back on that picture as the starting point to adding even more stories.