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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cushing unveils gay literature collection

Photo by Shelby Knowles
Don Kelley

To kickstart A&M’s GLBT Awareness Week on the 30th anniversary of Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M, a recently acquired collection of gay literature was unveiled at Cushing Library Wednesday.

The new exhibit — “Lives. Liberation. Love.” — spotlights portions of the Don Kelly Research Collection of Gay Literature and Culture.

The exhibit’s namesake, Kelly, said Wednesday he is not a book dealer or scholar, just someone with a love for literature.

“I’m just a gay man who has loved literature all his life and this has been a passion — one of the reasons because I think it helps me understand the gay condition and it’s a reflection of my own life,” Kelly said. “I will say that maybe I collected the books, but in some sense, some curious sense, the books have really collected me.”

Rebecca Hankins, associate professor and archivist, found the collection. She came across the news online that Kelly and his collection were in Houston in 2012 and contacted him about coming to A&M, but budgeting issues prevented the meeting. In 2014, she again contacted Kelly and the support “snowballed” from there.

The collection will be on display at Cushing Library until May 2016 and boasts more than 8,000 items, many of them first editions, with about 2,000 of them signed by their author. One of the major books in the collection is by a Canadian author named Ian Young, who did a bibliography of all gay male literature — a resource that was used as a template for the collection, Kelly said.

“What started off as a gay book collection became a gay publications collection and has since been expanded to the lesbian 

community and also to the transgender community and also to the bi-sexual community,” Kelly said.

Kelly said this all began when he discovered a book called “The Lost Gay Novels,” by Anthony Slide. 

“I said, ‘Well, if they’re lost, maybe I can find them,’” Kelly said. “There are 50 of them and I’m a checklist guy and I said, ‘Let’s see how many of them I can get.’ So, I started and I started with first editions, they all have dust jackets and if I could get them signed, I got them signed. Let me report that I only have 48 of these, I’ve got two left and one of them, though, is in the Evans Library.”

The collection includes novels, magazines, newspapers and journals from numerous LGBT authors. Kelly said he hopes that by having the collection at A&M, awareness is raised about the LGBT community. 

Bobbie Banner, biomedical sciences senior and member of the Pride Community Center of Bryan-College Station attended to represent the Pride organization and also to better understand the Don Kelly exhibit. 

“Anything that has to do with the LBGTQ community is important to show to A&M,” Banner said. “Visibility, visibility, visibility. It’s important to get the word out there in a manner which is welcoming and friendly.”

The opening Wednesday  coincided with the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M, which required universities to recognize gay student groups under the First Amendment. A&M’s refusal to recognize Gay Student Services prompted the 1985 decision. The organization, now known as LGBTQ Aggies, remains active.

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