When I began this project, all I knew was that I wanted to focus on finding queer voices in science. STEM fields are, and have been, aggressively heteropatriarchal—queer identities, like all other marginalized identities, are routinely erased and left out of discussions of scientific personalities, so the task was definitely not an easy one. A further complication was that scientific collections at the university are made up largely of collections of scientific instruments—not exactly objects that link easily to individuals.
However, I realised that this allowed me a lot of flexibility in making connections to the hidden queer history of science. Spending time in the museum of historical physics instruments, and being able to see how instruments that were a staple of our labs and assumed to be ‘basic’ evolved over time, drove home how rich and layered the history of science is: how all these instruments build on centuries of experimentation and research, and how numerous lives, histories and discoveries contributed to the development of a single multimeter, which I picked as my object.
Deciding to focus on Tesla also allowed me to explore the history of asexuality, and how ace history fits into, and yet is often erased from, the larger queer narrative. Exploring a part of queer history that is often left out of discussions was an eye-opening experience, and I greatly value the opportunities it’s given me to work with and learn from people in the ace community, and how this has enriched my understanding of queer history as a whole.