Archivist and Activist Holds the Key to New England’s LGBTQ History
Ben Power • Holyoke

A transgender activist for several decades, Ben Power is not only active in the LGBTQ community as a speaker and organizer, but curates an impressive collection of history, the Sexual Minorities Archives. The SMA is a 43-year-old national collection of over 12,000 books, thousands of periodicals, numerous subject files, films, videos, audio recordings, multimedia, and art related to the LGBTQ community in the United States and abroad. The SMA is also home to the Leslie Feinberg Library, the entire personal research library of the legendary transgender activist and author.  In 2012, Power founded the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc. (SMEF), a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that furthers the work of the SMA. Power is the executive director of SMEF, Inc.

“My entire life since the age of 25 has been an activist life. The work I do is important to me because it makes knowledge about our lives available to LGBTQ people. Education is the answer to solving oppression, and education is the means to equality. Grassroots community archives fill that gap in knowledge since our literature, history, and art aren’t widely taught in schools. Our queer and trans archives contribute to pride among our own communities, and are places where we can learn our own histories and the lessons of past and present movements.”

Among Ben’s impressive resume is being the founder of the first ever transgender male support group in the New England region – the East Coast FTM Group – and he was the co-founder of the first New England Transgender Pride March and Rally. These many accomplishments, along with myriad other reasons, are why Ben feels it is important for all the people of Massachusetts to stand up for nondiscrimination this fall and vote to keep transgender rights in law.

“There’s no reason why as Americans trans people shouldn’t have 100% equal rights. To have them possibly taken away is an outrage, and that option being on the ballot is crazy. How and why does the majority get to vote on the rights of a minority? If these rights are repealed, it would be another attack on the transgender community that will lead possibly to more calls to suicide hotlines, more harassment and hate crimes, more ugliness. It would be a black eye on the state’s image. I’m concerned about the welfare of my own friends. There’s only so much harassment and cruelty someone can take before they get very disheartened. We need to totally and unapologetically hold onto our rights here.”


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