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Today’s project showcase comes from Michael Robert Gawlik, an MA Student focusing on Visual Communication at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. For more about Michael and his digital public humanities projects, please see his website:

Only five US states require LGBTQ+ history as part of K-12 social studies curriculums. But according to research from GLSEN, queer students who learn about LGBTQ+ topics feel safer at school, report lower rates of victimization, and are more likely to pursue post-secondary education. Additionally, anecdotal reports from history educators suggest that learning these topics not only makes queer students more comfortable with their sexuality, but also increases tolerance among their straight peers.

Animating Queer History serves as a resource for students who won’t learn LGBTQ+ history in the classroom. In a series of short animations, the project introduces students to significant themes in American LGBTQ+ history, from the creation of sexual categories at the end of the nineteenth century to the gay liberation movement. To illustrate why this history matters, the project draws direct connections between the past and present. The animations are housed on a website that provides resources for further exploration. While the project certainly isn’t a replacement for a comprehensive LGBTQ+ history course, it aims to familiarize students with queer history and offer direction to those interested in learning more.

This project was created as part of a master’s thesis at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator, then imported to Adobe After Effects for animation. The project’s website was created using a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In order to increase accessibility to students who don’t have a personal computer, the site was coded for responsivity using Bootstrap, making it easy to navigate for mobile users.

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