A 4,000 year gay and lesbian chronology.

A 4,000 year gay and lesbian chronology.


BECOMING A PEOPLE…A 4,000 year gay and lesbian chronology.

Jim Kepner.

Hollywood, CA: The National Gay Archives, 1983. 

Prepublication Edition (“For sale at the 1983 Gay Pride celebrations only”). 79 pp. Staplebound reproduction from typescript. Light wear to covers, and crease on lower covers, otherwise in good condition. 

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Jim Kepner (1923-1997) was a pioneering queer activist, archivist, and teacher. This book combines so much of his expertise up until the point of its publication and sale at Gay Pride in Los Angeles in 1983, as he writes in its introduction, it’s 

“Drawn from 42 years of notes collected in seeking to understand my own gayness., and 31 years as a gay activist, writer, teacher, and archivist.  I began reading gay history in 1942, first wrote on it in early 1954 and taught my first gay history class two years later.” 

Kepner’s writing and teaching work initially revolved around the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, founded in the early 1952 with its publication ONE Magazine. In 1956, the ONE Institute was established to teach “Homophile Studies,” in attempt to promote the study of gay history and positive portrayal of same-sex desire and gender non-conformity. No comparable classes were available anywhere else at the time. In his own right, during this crucial period of queer consciousness-raising—work necessary to the formation of a liberation movement that the Stonewall Riots also contributed too—Kepner created collections of important publications, and saved the archives of those involved in the struggle, establishing the International Gay and Lesbian Archives—the first and largest collection of its kind—which merged with ONE in 1994. This crucial combination of activism with archiving makes Kepner’s legacy one of uniquely broad scope: hundreds of documents survive from a broad cross section of the LGBT movement due to his foresight. This too is evidenced by this wonderful publication, Becoming a People…a 4,000 year gay and lesbian chronology, which is expansive in its inclusivity dating back to the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is also amazing to consider that at one point in the history of gay pride, densely packed books such as this were easily available to give context and heighten the awareness of issues in the history queer struggle for those who attended. 


Jim Kepner, Rough News, Daring Views: 1950’s Pioneer Gay Press Journalism (Philadephia: Haworth Press, 1998).