On Saturday 25th May, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:
Two new TRC acquisitions are good illustrations of the diversity of the TRC collection. The first is a ribbon shirt that was commissioned expressly for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe). A ribbon shirt is a pan-American Indian garment “worn by men and women, generally on special occasions or ceremonial purposes. It's a way for us to represent ourselves in a nice way to our communities or spiritual practices,” writes Jennie.
The shirt’s origins are thought to be in North America’s Great Lakes region. French and English traders introduced silk ribbons in the 1700s, and also open neck, pull-over shirts originally of linen or cotton. By the 1800s many indigenous men wore ribbon shirts rather than the traditional buckskin shirt. The TRC’s shirt is black polyester, with ribbons in the colours of the Four Directions: red, yellow, black and white. A machine-stitched appliqué of a buffalo represents the Ojibwe and Dakota territories that make up the US state of Minnesota.
The second acquisition is a donation from the Amsterdam drag queen Jennifer Hopelezz. Or rather, the drag activist or ‘dragtivist’, as Jennifer uses the attention she gets as a man dressing up as a woman to promote LGBT+ equality and to fight discrimination against people with HIV. The drag costume featured is a teddy made of factory produced black net, embellished with a floral design of silver-coloured sequins. It was made for Jennifer by Spanish designer Sergio Pedrero Santos, who also known the drag queen Lola Veneno.
This costume and others will be featured in an upcoming TRC digital exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. In June 1969, when police raided the New York gay bar called Stonewall, customers unexpectedly fought back. The area around the bar was barricaded and traffic shut down for almost three days as more gay, lesbian and transgender people from around the city gathered to protest discrimination. The modern movement for LGBT+ rights was launched. The first LGBT+ Pride March took place the next year, to mark the first year anniversary of Stonewall.