Through the joint efforts of the Asian Pacific American Program’s HomeSpun Project and the National Museum of American History (NMAH), The South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA) recently donated a variety of materials to the Archives Center, NMAH, Smithsonian Institution.
Founded in 1991, SALGA is a New York City based organization promoting the civil rights of all South Asian Americans through awareness, empowerment, and the provision of safe spaces. SALGA participates in a range of activities ranging from HIV/AIDS awareness, to immigration advocacy, to support groups, to book clubs, to social gatherings.
The materials will join the Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection (click to download PDF). This collection contains publications, advertising ephemera, posters, and other materials related to the LGBT community throughout the United States. SALGA newsletters, flyers for events, and outreach materials inform its members and non-members of critical issues facing primarily LGBT South Asian Americans. These materials helped connect people in an age before the Internet, facilitating their adjustment to life in New York City.
SALGA has gained prominence within New York City’s Indian American community. It has worked collaboratively to be able to march in the annual Indian Day Parade in New York City. They are widely known and acknowledged by mainstream gay and lesbian communities as serving a demographic otherwise unattended.
The organization’s generous contribution of artifacts and documents, only some of which are shown here, helps HomeSpun include the multiple voices of the Indian American community and helps the Archives Center house a more comprehensive LGBT collection. The SALGA materials housed at the Archives Center will provide researchers with an opportunity to learn about the experiences of the South Asian LGBT community during the late 1990s and early 2000s. This is part of the Smithsonian’s larger effort to represent LGBT communities in terms of civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, and visual arts. People who have lived through an era are able to have their history documented for future use by researchers through their organizational records. The SALGA materials are a precious primary resource documenting the history of an important facet of the LGBT experience.