The Voices Out Loud Project began in Summer of 2016 when Donna Braquet and Kat Brooks brainstormed a way to save the LGBTQ+ history of East Tennessee.
Donna, a research librarian at the University of Tennessee, came to Knoxville in 2004 for that job. Once at UT she became involved in making change on campus for LGBTQ+ folks, including helping to start the Commission for LGBT People, Lavender Graduation, Safe Zone, and the Pride Center. She served as the director of the Pride Center (formerly OUTreach: LGBT & Ally Resource Center) from its creation in 2010 until May 2016 when it was defunded by the Tennessee state legislature.
Saving Queer Stories
We began with a simple, but important concept–to record the stories of LGBTQ+ people with connections to East Tennessee. The stories of queer people living and thriving in the South are crucial in telling the full account of the queer community, as well as an accurate depiction of the South in the United States.
Young queer people in East Tennessee deserve to know their history, to know that people like them have always existed in this place. All LGBTQ+ people in this area need to know about all of those who came before them in the struggle for equality and acceptance.
We believe that queer history is now, so we are working to save stories from decades ago as well as those happening in the present. In 2018, we began saving historical artifacts in addition to recording oral histories.
If you have a story to tell or artifacts like photos, videos, t-shirts, brochures, newspapers, banners, posters, letters, or other mementos related to LGBTQ+ history in East Tennessee, we would love to hear from you.