UT professor brings black queer film to campus community

Alex Wilts

The omnipresence of the Internet and search engines such as Google has not made professor Matt Richardson’s search for black queer films, literature and music any easier.

Richardson, associate English and African and African diaspora studies professor, discussed his goal to continue identifying and archiving films for the UT Libraries Black Queer Studies Collection during a talk Wednesday. Richardson said this mission can be difficult because typing the words “black” and “queer” into a search bar will not necessarily bring up this type of cultural material sufficiently.

“If you go into the library website catalog and you type in ‘black queer studies collection,’ there are more than 600 searchable items that will pop up,” Richardson said. “And that’s not actually everything that is in the library. Some materials are not even actually tagged.”

Richardson said before any of the films or literature can be gathered and become part of the library, the materials must physically be retrieved from a wide range of off-campus locations. To aid in developing UT’s collection of black queer art and cultural content, Richardson said he spent time in Glasgow Women’s Library’s Lesbian Archive in Scotland, going through its materials.

“What I ended up doing there was spending a week in a cold attic with no heater, searching through boxes of information and trying to find this history,” Richardson said.

Antonio Santana, an African and African diaspora studies graduate student, said he has been following Richardson’s whole process of digitizing black queer art and cultural content for UT, which, according to Richardson, now has one of the largest collections of black queer film in the country.

“This is a good initiative of making the queer black experience visible,” Santana said. “This kind of material is usually erased from mainstream media.”

Richardson’s talk, given in the large study room on the second floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library, was the first event related to the library’s Learning Commons initiative to use the study space for the betterment of students.