40 Years of Public Health in the Lehigh Valley’s LGBT Community
Collecting and Curating Local LGBT Health Experiences from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19
These oral histories were captured by representatives of the Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive, an initiative of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center (BSC) in partnership with Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College. The goal of the project was to take this moment, during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, to both capture the current experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community during the lockdown and to reflect on memories of the HIV/AIDS crisis, while looking for comparisons. The stories pertaining to memories of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s were collected largely by Liz Bradbury, director of the BSC Training Institute, who has known many of the participants since the 1990s and beyond. The stories of experiences during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic were collected largely by archivist Kristen Leipert.
This collection consists of interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community of the Lehigh Valley in which they discuss their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic from March through July 2020. Participants reflect on isolation, illness, community, work, and anxiety. The collection also includes interviews with individuals who lived through the worst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. Similar themes of community, isolation, and loss are described, as well as examples of the activist mindset that helped lead the community through the crisis. These individuals compare the Covid-19 pandemic with the HIV/AIDS crisis and offer words of advice for younger members of the LGBTQ+ community today.
This collection also appears in the Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive, a program of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.