Brisbane’s The Boot Co. recently donated historic newsletters and magazines to two institutions for preservation. The leather and fetish club gifted the ephemera to the State Library of Queensland and the Australian Queer Archives (AQuA). Also included, a published history of the club by historian Tim Roberts.
The donations significantly expand the representation of the club’s history in Australian cultural institutions. The materials will also add to the information available to researchers documenting LGBTIQ+ lives and lifestyles. Tim Roberts said such access provided researchers with a richer context.
Cyll Duncan, President of The Boot Co. said the club took pride in its contribution to our community heritage.
“It is great to see that leather, fetish, and gay and lesbian lives are considered valuable enough to be represented in Australia’s national collecting institutions. This gift will ensure that a little bit of Brisbane’s history can be told for generations to come.”
Prior to this donation, the State Library of Queensland held a small number of magazines, newsletters, and workshop booklets donated by the club in 2014. The AQuA already held a large quantity of The Boot Co. newsletters, previously received from individuals and the Dolphin Motor Club. However, this recent donation enabled the AQuA to fill gaps and nearly complete their holdings.
The Australian Queer Archives, previously the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, began in 1978. The organisation states its mission as to collect, preserve and celebrate Australia’s queer histories. Indeed, AQuA is the largest and most significant archive of Australian LGBTIQ+ material.
For decades now, researchers, academics, and authors in every corner of Australia relied on AQuA for information unavailable anywhere else. Ian Byford published Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns in 2016.
“AQuA is an amazing resource. Their collection includes information about Cairns no longer available in the town itself. By donating material to AQuA, individuals and groups ensure our history is not lost.”
The Boot Co. history
In 2014, The Boot Co. engaged professional historian Tim Roberts to research the club’s history. In 2020 Tim published a book to commemorate the club’s 30th anniversary. He also agitated for the club to seek a long-term solution to preserve materials he used during the research. He noted that major institutional collections contain the archives of only a few social groups.
“Many smaller clubs and associations downplay their significance within their local community, thinking that they aren’t important enough for representation in national collections. In fact, the activities and events hosted by these organisations show us how individuals spent their spare time and enriched their lives. The LGBTIQ+ community has so many wonderful stories to tell, and I’d encourage any person or group with newsletters, posters, or other records of our community’s history to consider donating it to institutions where it can be stored safely, and enjoyed by researchers many years from now.”
Individuals and groups interested in preserving historic material can contact Tim Roberts.
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