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T-shirt Archive
GALA Queer Archive
Artwork 1980s–2000s
Installation photograph of the Common exhibition. Above, T-shirts with slogans from the GALA Queer Archive and SAHA are suspended on crossing lines. One white T-shirt features an image of a man’s smiling face and reads "Sorry Girls, I’m Gay.”
Artwork: GALA Queer Archive, T-shirt Archive (1980s–2000s). Archive of printed T-shirts. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the GALA Queer Archive.
Artist GALA Queer Archive Title T-shirt Archive Date 1980s–2000s Materials Archive of printed T-shirts Dimensions Dimensions variable Credit Courtesy of the GALA Queer Archive

Founded in 1997, the GALA Queer Archive (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Archive) established itself as a response to the continuous omission of LGBTQIA+ history from museums and archives in post-apartheid South Africa. With over 200 organisational and personal collections in its care, GALA ensures that each item is preserved and remains publicly accessible. GALA’s T-shirt archive, from which curator Khanya Mashabela selected 30 for the exhibition Common at A4, spans over 30 years and comprises T-shirts collected by GALA and donated by various organisations. The T-shirts – bearing slogans: “Gays against apartheid,” “Open your eyes, a global crisis is exploding,” and “Marriage, anything less is not equal” – offer records of the inclusion of the Equality Clause in South Africa’s constitution in the mid-1990s, the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the marriage campaign of the 2000s. Testament to collective action towards equality, the archive includes T-shirts made by the activist groups AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Association of Bisexuals, Gays & Lesbians (ABIGALE), Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW), and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP), among others.