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What We Do

Archives & research facility

Our archives and research facility was set up to serve the needs of rigorous academic research on LGBTIQ issues while maintaining a dual role as a repository of community histories and cultural artefacts. Today, we are the custodian of a large number of individual and organisational archival collections that document the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTIQ people in Africa. These collections encompass organisational and individual records and narratives, community histories, and cultural artefacts, and they form the foundation of a comprehensive social history of LGBTIQ people on the continent.

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GALA undertakes a range of research projects that enhance knowledge on LGBTIQ issues. It is essential that these research projects be academically rigorous, and GALA makes use of its links with South African universities to ensure its projects can withstand scrutiny. All of our research projects are linked to dissemination programmes that aim to turn research into evidence-based strategies and advocacy initiatives.

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Online portals

In 2012, GALA will launch two innovative issue-focused online portals: one on LGBTI youth and education issues, and one on gender- and sexual orientation-based violence. As well as making new and existing information freely available, the online portals will act as important resources for a range of stakeholders –including, among others, family members, service providers and researchers – and a safe space for users to share knowledge and discuss relevant topics.

Publishing imprint

In 2011, GALA launched MaThoko’s Books, an imprint dedicated to publishing high-quality nonfiction and fiction books on sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa. The imprint aims to be a corrective to the limited publishing support for queer writing in Africa and to act as a springboard for emerging and marginalised voices. MaThoko's Books is also committed to publishing scholarly works and research on LGBTIQ-related themes.

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Since its creation, GALA has been committed to generating and disseminating knowledge through the production of high-quality and accessible publications. GALA’s broad publishing programme has included scholarly works aimed at both an academic and a popular audience, as well as books aimed at a more general readership. We have also produced resources for use in secondary schools, educational booklets and comics, and short community-focused publications.

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Public dialogues, forums & colloquiums

GALA regularly holds public forums and dialogues on LGBTIQ issues, including a regular Thursday afternoon discussion forum to support the developmental needs of young LGBTIQ people in Johannesburg. GALA also hosts once-off forums and dialogues on a broad range of issues.


GALA has considerable expertise in developing high-quality museum exhibitions that aim to originate new, transforming ideas around sexual and gender identities, and to foster dialogue between LGBTIQ groups and the broader public. We believe that museums and other heritage sites can be vital tools for promoting social change, and our exhibitions have often had a strong educational programme attached to them.

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Community library & resource centre

The Cooper-Sparks Queer Community Library and Resource Centre began more than twenty-five years ago as a very special library hidden in someone’s closet. Today – out, proud and in the care of GALA – the library has more than 4,000 books and several hundred videos. The library provides LGBTI people with an environment where they can feel welcome, and where they can find critical information on LGBTI rights and relevant issues (for example HIV/AIDS and ‘coming out’).

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Historical tours

GALA offers to the public a historical bus tour of queer Johannesburg and a walking tour of queer Hillbrow. These tours aim to give visitors unique insight into the history of LGBTI culture and political development in the Gauteng region.

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Film & theatre

Finding innovative ways for communities to access the information in the archives has been part of GALA’s strategy from the beginning. Film and theatre are two significant ways in which this has been achieved, with GALA having produced a number of documentaries and community theatre projects.

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Deaf programme

GALA’s Deaf Programme comprises three ongoing projects:

  • The Deaf HIV/AIDS Awareness Project
  • The Deaf MSM HIV/AIDS Leadership Project
  • The Deaf Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Empowerment Group

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