For this extra credit opportunity, I listened to episode 2 of Ben Franklin’s World. This episode had guest Cornelia King, Chief of Reference at the Library company of Philadelphia, and curator of women’s history. The podcast contained a lot of information from what Cornelia’s duties are as the Chief of Reference, to what the library company hopes to promote when they create a new exhibition. The newest exhibition they discussed was “That so Gay, outing in early America.” Cornelia explained that out of all the times they have been able to create this new exhibition this was the best time to showcase that gay relationships have been a part of American culture for decades.
The Library Company of Philadelphia has been a part of the gay movement and it’s history for years. King explains that the company wanted to create this exhibition during this time because it would be the prequel of the first LGBTQ protest at Independence hall, 50 years ago. Independence Hall and the Library are right in the center of the strong gay community in Philadelphia today, making this exhibition even more powerful to show how far the LGBTQ community has come.
Cornelia highlights that they created this exhibition to show same-sex relationships have flourished through novels and readings dating back all the way to biblical times. Also highlighting Philadelphia’s historic movement in the LGBTQ community. While listening to this podcast I myself realized just how much gay relationships and culture have influenced American novels and media through the decades. One interesting discussion point used in the podcast was the point of “keywords” being used in biblical writings and early American writing to combat using the word gay. Biblical figures would say “friends rather than enemies”, which now we can see suggests some sort of relationship. Other main stream novels including “Moby Dick” use writing and keywords that suggest there is some sort of relationship between two men on the ship. As told by King thousands of media stories and novels from early America used these keywords, so much that King had to leave out many novels from the exhibition because there would be an overflow if they were to include every one.
This point of keywords intrigued me, and made me realize that gay relationships in early American media has allowed the coverage and freedom of gay culture to be present today. King in the podcast discusses this point exactly saying that she uses these exhibitions to not only show how far America has come but also made the public understand and be aware that many of the things happening in today’s society were already major discussions in other eras of America. This made me also see that the development of technology and forms of communication and innovation have allowed the discussion and acceptance of gay culture to adapt over the years, into what it is today.
Overall, I’m glad I picked this podcast, to me personally this is something I have never thought of and it made me wonder what other things are hiding in early American media. King explained that the reason for these exhibitions is to pose questions and allow the viewer to get the answer from the work presented and I think she is doing just that. This article showed that media stories today, and social conflicts today are not new, rather they have been a part of our history and have been represented in our media for decades.