Entertainment » Culture

The Gay Rub at the One Archives

by Caleb Rainey
Monday Feb 17, 2014

History and art are critical to creating a sense of identity and community for any group of people. LGBT people in particular have been erased or ignored in cultural history and so rediscovering and preserving our lineage has been the focus for many activists and artists through the years.

One such project is the new exhibit, "The Gay Rub" at ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood, which features "...a collection of 100 rubbings from important markers of LGBTQ history. Created and organized by poet and educator Steve Reigns, the project documents historical signs, tombstones, cenotaphs, plaques, and monuments from around the world and seeks to draw attention to the LGBTQ events and individuals under-represented or under-appreciated within history. This exhibition marks the first time the rubbings have been assembled together for public display. The rubbings themselves act as an archive of historic markers, calling attention to what LGBTQ events and individuals gets recolonized or legitimized through public commemoration."

The Rage Monthly was able to chat with David Evans Frantz, a representative of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives about what makes it and the new exhibition, The Gay Rub, special and needed. When asked how the archives came into being, Frantz responded with, "ONE was founded in 1952 to produce ONE magazine, the first widely distributed magazine for homosexuals in the United States. ONE brought the first case before the Supreme Court involving homosexuality and today is the longest running and active LGBTQ organization in the U.S. Since the 1990s, ONE has functioned as an archive, it is the largest of its kind in the world and has been a part of the USC Libraries since 2010."

ONE magazine grew out of the Mattachine Society in the '50s which was the first known association for gay rights founded in the U.S. by Harry Hay and several other men. The group called itself a "homophile rights" organization and helped pave the way for the riots of the 1970s. As Frantz puts it, "ONE is a resource unlikely anything in the world and it's right at L.A.'s fingertips! History has an important role in shaping the present and the future of queer culture. The materials housed at ONE are just waiting to be discovered." ONE is even more special for its willingness to pair the world of art and culture with the world of history.

Frantz informed me that, "The exhibition will feature close to 100 rubbings organized by Reigns, to be accompanied by a specially-produced zine that will highlight the importance of each marker and the site from which it was taken." The zine produced in conjunction with the event will itself be a historical document and visitors may want to attend just for the chance to acquire the unique piece.

The fact that the artistic medium for the exhibit will be "rubbings" is also unique. The Gay Rub is described, "As a term, rub can have numerous connotations. As a verb, rub can mean to upset someone: 'Rub someone the wrong way.' It can also mean truth: 'That's the rub;' or social friction: 'He got a lot of rub for that.' And, of course, it can be slang for sexual activity: 'To rub one out.' Most importantly, it is shorthand for the word 'rubbing.' All meanings apply. "

The Gay Rub is an assemblage of our gay truth and the rub and rubbings that come from it. So make sure to visit ONE Archives this February and show support for this amazing exhibit and the incredible artist who put it all together!


The Gay Rub runs through Sunday, February 23 at ONE Archives Gallery & Museum,626 North Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood, for more information go to one.usc.edu

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com


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