By: Chelsea Blackmore
I came out when I was 29 years old. At that point in my life, my world was my work-teaching, mentoring, doing research, and wondering what life would be like after graduate school. Coming out was emotional and scary as it is for most people. But in retrospect I was both fortunate and privileged. I didn’t have to worry about being kicked out of my home. I was living in California and friends and family, albeit tentative at first, were quite supportive.
The hardest part for me was coming out and not seeing myself reflected by others in my profession or graduate school (at least my specific department and cohort). I had no close queer friends and campus resources were focused largely on helping undergraduates. Because I was so consumed with graduate school and eventual move into a tenure track position, my queer life questions were very different from other students. How open should I be about my sexuality with my colleagues, peers, and mentors? How will this play out in archaeology, especially with field work? Do I just pretend that I am straight, make up stories and omit my partner (again)? Where the hell are the other queer archaeologists?
Thus began a journey of sorts. I didn’t realize it then but now when I look back, this lack of resources and visibility is what sent me down my queer theory path. This site is about creating an online space, a community of sorts for those who identify as part of the LGBTIQ+ spectrum, those who are archaeologists, and those who are interested in queer theory and sexuality studies more broadly. What does one’s identity have to do with the profession of archaeology? Everything. Archaeology is inherently collaborative. I don’t know of any project (except maybe writing up publications!) that is a solitary process. We have students that work in our labs and offices. Field work requires people to do hard physical labor of all kinds. So our identity, who we love, our interests, our physical presentation, the pronouns we use, how we interact with people is all defined by our identities and its various intersecting parts. Being queer and being an archaeologists are clearly not mutually exclusive things. But seeing and knowing that queer archaeologists exist is one small part of making safe spaces for ourselves and those in our discipline.