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Eric Gonzaba Uses T-shirts, address books to explore LGBTQ history

One of the things Eric Gonzaba appreciates about American Studies is the ability to study history by looking at different sources, disciplines or even artifacts.

Take T-shirts.

Gonzaba, who started this fall as an assistant professor in Cal State Fullerton’s American Studies Department, focuses on race and sexuality. He’s teaching an introductory American Studies class and an upper level seminar on Race in America.

But he’s also excited about finding ways to involve his students in a project he has been working on since 2014 — Wearing Gay History, an award-winning digital mapping project that explores the global history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through T-shirts.

The site includes photos of almost 5,000 T-shirts worn over the last 40 years in most of the 50 states and over 25 countries, including South Africa, Netherlands and Australia. The shirts are divided into dozens of categories, including AIDS/HIV, bullying and violence, the pink triangle, Pride, marriage and equality and politics and elections.

“Phase one was the collection, and people still want to add to it,” said Gonzaba, 29, fresh from getting his doctorate in history at George Mason University. “But I am at the 2.0 version, figuring out ways to get students to somehow use it for research. That’s the whole purpose.”

Read entire article at The Orange County Register