Personal Chronicles

Diaries and ephemera
Diaries and ephemera
A man kept a diary for ten years, creating a narrative of his life in San Francisco’s gay community. In his will, Vincent bequeathed them to Elizabeth Stone, who had been his high school English teacher a quarter century earlier. Enclosed within the box of diaries was a letter which began “Dear Elizabeth, You must be wondering why I left you my diaries in my will. After all, we have not seen each other in over twenty years . . .”

Through the diaries, Stone learned of Vincent’s daily life, travels, loves, friendships, and his devastating death from AIDS in 1995—and came to know the man her former student had become. As his story unfolded, she responded with a spectrum of emotions—judgment, anger, affection, grief, and compassion. She became aware of the impact that she had made in his life, and was challenged by the diaries to reflect upon her own life and mortality. Vincent’s voice, his presence, came alive for her, and the roles of teacher and student underwent a profound shift.

Elizabeth Stone was moved to write about this revelatory and transformative experience. Her book A Boy I Once Knew: What a Teacher Learned from Her Student was published in 2002. She subsequently donated to the Hormel Center archives the box of Vincent’s diaries that had so unexpectedly changed her life.

The Gary Fisher papers include manuscripts, diaries, correspondence and publications donated by Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick. Fisher began keeping journals in high school and continued the practice until his death from AIDS at 32. In a distinctly honest, witty, compassionate voice, he detailed his experiences as a gay African American man, a writer and a person living with AIDS. The diaries are vibrant with his poetry and richly colored drawings, and reflective of his passionate engagement with the intertwining dimensions of sexuality, race, the body, life and death.

Jewelle Gomez Journals
Jewelle Gomez Journals
c. 1996
Writer, activist and academic Jewelle Gomez, who serves on the Hormel Endowment Committee, has donated a collection of her personal papers to the archives. Within the collection is a box of private journals containing fragments of poetry, memories, and musings interspersed with reflections on daily life. The author of seven books, Gomez’s work appears also in various periodicals and anthologies, and ranges from fiction to personal and political essays, poetry and criticism. The journals offer rare insights into the experiences that have shaped her life and work.