Sleuthing the Secret Life of Science Fiction - Atlas Obscura

Los Angeles, California

Sleuthing the Secret Life of Science Fiction

Mapping Queer Science Fiction with a talk and tour of the ONE Archive.

In the 1930's, finding life outside the closet sometimes meant looking for another planet. A generation of gay and lesbian sci-fans did just that. They were drawn to a genre that allowed them to imagine new worlds where they could be their true selves and love whomever they wanted.

Join Atlas Obscura and the ONE Foundation after hours at the ONE Archive, as we explore this incredible time in literary history. A time that ultimately led to the foundation of some of the first LGBTQ publications in the United States, or the world for that matter. Early gay activists like Jim Kepner and Lisa Ben, cut their teeth in the sci-fi world, learning the art of publishing and telling a compelling story. 

Dr. Joseph Hawkins, Ph.D will take us searching into the rich history of science fiction publications ranging back to the 1930's. These publications became a way to explore LGBTQ themes and topics virtually impossible in other magazines and literary journals. But under the guise of other worlds, monsters and mysterious places anything was possible. He has spent years searching the archives, mapping this important and unknown history. For the presentation he will pull select items from the archive, including materials from the early science fiction and fantasy clubs of the time. 

Also as a special rare addition to this event, archive staff will lead participants through a tour of the One Archive. The general public does not generally have access to the archive in this way. It is a chance to explore this important topic, as well as this vital resource. 


Joseph Hawkins, Ph.D., currently teaches anthropology and gender studies at the University of Southern California. His anthropological research focuses on homosexuality and identity in the postwar period of Japan. His translation of “A Tour of Gay Town,” from the Yomiuri Shimbun appears in the recent volume Queer Voices Out of Japan, from Rowman and Littlefield.

He was previously the President of the Board of Directors of the ONE Archives Foundation and is currently Director of ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.


ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries is the largest repository of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) materials in the world. Founded in 1952, ONE Archives currently houses over two million archival items including periodicals, books, film, video and audio recordings, photographs, artworks, organizational records, and personal papers. ONE Archives has been a part of the University of Southern California Libraries since 2010. 

It is the mission of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries to collect, preserve, and make accessible LGBTQ historical materials while promoting new scholarship on and public awareness of queer histories. 


The ONE Archives Foundation, Inc. collects, preserves, and protects LGBTQ history, art, and culture in collaboration with ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. To provide access to the ONE collection, the Foundation presents and supports projects, programs, exhibitions, and education to share the LGBTQ experience with diverse communities worldwide.


  • Parking is available at the archive and there is also street parking available.
  • There is no food or drink allowed in the archive itself.
  • Weather allowing, we will follow the event with a wine and cheese reception held in the outer courtyard. 
  • A part of the proceeds goes to supporting the ONE Foundation and their work.  


Email Carlyle Coash at

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