Hello, Bet Power here. Many of you know me; some of you don’t. I am a 64-year old, disabled, transgender man; a queer historian and an activist archivist. I need your support as soon as you can give it.
For 31 years, the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA), a national collection of LGBTQI literature, history, and art, has been located in my home in Northampton, Massachusetts. I am the Curator of the SMA and I have rented the Archives House from the same family for all these years. The SMA fills my home from top to bottom and there are overflow materials, too.
Now the owner is putting the house up for sale, giving me first option to buy and, unless I can purchase the Archives House, the SMA will need to move its extensive, community-donated collections out and put them into archival storage – nearly 10,000 books, over 900 periodical sets, tens of thousands of LGBTQI subject files, thousands of music and multi-media tapes, queer art works, rare posters, buttons, t-shirts, and much more. The SMA is under threat of ceasing its operations for the first time in the 40 years that it has been providing educational resources to the LGBTQI communities.
I think you will agree with me on this: WE DON”T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN!
Within the Archives House are historic LGBTQI archival materials – of which many of them can be found nowhere else on the east coast – including a full run of ONE Magazine, the Ladder, extensive queer POC subject files and books, foreign-language queer and trans books and magazines, a queer vinyl record collection, hundreds of author-signed books including a 1939 first edition copy of The World Is Round, signed by Gertrude Stein and artist Clement Hurd, original paintings, drawings, and photography, archival materials on working-class LGBTQIs, intersex persons, genderqueers, and comprehensive transgender subject files. Also in the SMA is original research on pre-Stonewall, Pioneer Valley LGBTQI figures we have developed, and stacks of research papers developed by LGBTQI students and professors over the years. Some books date back to the late 1800s; many periodicals are pre-1969 and there are hundreds of current titles, too. Learn more and like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/sexual-minorities-archives/117351321685599
The Archives House serves as an important grassroots, community educational hub for all queer people and our allies. Currently our operations at the house include hosting four paid summer interns and an assistant archivist, each of whom learns and furthers the SMA queer archival methods – handling, processing and cataloging precious materials – every day. Each time a queer protects and makes accessible a piece of queer history – that is queer activism.
And this is a big AND … the Archives House is my home! I have lived with the SMA at this location for 31 years.
The Archives House sits on the bank of the magnificent Connecticut River. Watching the river flow and experiencing its beauty and power has given me and countless queer visitors to the SMA over the years the safety, strength, and inspiration we need to carry on as we resist oppression daily and work for equality. We can’t stop now. We must go forward.
Why am I looking to you to help me purchase the Archives House?
I can’t do it without you!
Seven years ago, I became medically disabled with a rare, life-threatening vasculitis disease called Granulomatosis With Poly Angiitis (GPA). There is no known cause and no known cure, only chemotherapy every 4 months and surgery every 6 months, indefinitely, to keep my lungs functioning and my airway open. Recently, the treatment started to work and the disease is in remission. But not before it took away the hearing in my left ear completely and damaged my trachea for life. The onset of the illness and its numerous medical appointments, hospitalizations, and demanding treatment, ended my business career of 30 years. Today, I survive on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) as my only source of income.
It’s not a lot of money each month, and that is an understatement.
This is where you come in. I need to raise $10,000 for pre-closing costs to buy the Archives House this summer. The owner is eager to sell and we need to keep her from putting the Archives House on the market!
> $5,500 to pay this summer for a NACA Interest-Rate Buy Down to permanently reduce the mortgage interest rate; this will help lower my monthly mortgage payment enough to qualify me to "buy enough house," in order to pay the seller an amount for the property that she will accept. Otherwise, I will not be able to buy the house at what the seller thinks she can get for it elsewhere
> $1,000 as an earnest deposit that I must make to the seller to hold the Archives House
> $600 for the first year’s homeowners’ insurance
> $100 for an additional two-months of homeowners’ insurance
> $208 for real estate taxes
> $247 for pre-paid mortgage interest
> And the rest is for money held in reserves that I must demonstrate I have
I am working with an economic justice organization to get a mortgage, which I otherwise could not get, as someone on SSDI. The Neighborhood Association Corporation of America (NACA) is a HUD-backed, in-the-streets and in-the-suites activist organization that will provide advocacy for me to get a mortgage. For 25 years, NACA has stood up to the big banks, protested against their lucrative sub-prime mortgage schemes, resisted evictions of working-class people of color and poor whites, and won the right to buy a home and stay in our homes for countless people. Check them out at www.naca.com
Please help me to save the Archives House and, if you do, it will allow me to continue to serve the LGBTQI and allies community as I curate the collections, meet with hundreds of people at the house each year, manage interns and community volunteers, provide meeting space for a trans male support group, develop original queer history research, give queer history talks and guide queer history walks – as we collect, preserve, protect, and provide access to a wealth of LGBTQI literature, history, and art. This is my life’s work. Please help me secure the location so I may continue to do it. I do it all for our liberation and equality. I do it all for you!
Please give any amount you can and spread the word to everyone you know! Thank you so much! We can do this. We can save the Sexual Minorities Archives House!