About the GALA Queer Archive

Founded in 1997 as an archive, the GALA Queer Archive (GALA) is a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of information about the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer) people in South Africa. GALA was established as a response to the continued erasure and omission of LGBTIQ history from official museums and archives, even in the wave of new histories and heritage being celebrated and emphasised in post-apartheid 1990s South Africa.  

As an archive founded on principles of social justice and human rights, GALA continues to work towards a greater awareness about the lives and experiences of LGBTIQ people in South Africa, and Africa more broadly. Thus their main focus is to preserve and nurture LGBTIQ narratives and culture, as well as promote social equality, inclusive education and youth development. 

Today GALA is the custodian of over 200 organisational and personal archival collections dating back to the 1940s, with archival responsibilities that include the safe storage of historical documents and objects and ensuring that this material is accessible to the public. GALA also actively adds to the archive by collecting historical material to add to existing collections, or starting new collections by recording contemporary experiences. 

In addition to their ongoing archival programme, GALA supports research, publishes, operates a community library, facilitates educational workshops and hosts exhibitions. GALA publishes under their imprint, MaThoko’s Books, a rare publishing outlet for LGBTIQ writing and scholarly works on LGBTIQ-related themes in Africa. 

GALA incorporates the archive into educational programming aimed at broadening perspectives around gender and sexual diversity. Complimenting this includes developing resources, furthering our internship and training programmes aimed at capacity building for queer youth, and collaborating with civil society organisations on programmes that focus on cross cutting issues.