Browse Exhibits (6 total)

“Gay is Good”: Gay and Lesbian Organizing in DC, 1961-1975

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"Gay is Good": DC-based gay rights activist Dr. Franklin Kameny coined this slogan in the 1960s to convince gay people of their dignity and self-worth. As co-founder and leader of the Mattachine Society of Washington, Kameny played a role in dismantling anti-gay federal policies, including those that barred homosexuals from federal employment. Kameny and his fellow activists also challenged the American Psychiatric Association for pathologizing homosexuality. This exhibit explores gay and lesbian organizing in DC, 1961-1975, in its historical and political context.

 

Community Pioneers: Creators of DC's LGBT Community

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In 2003 The Rainbow History Project established the Community Pioneer Award as a means of recognizing people whose contributions to the community merited special recognition. The recipients of this award are chosen for their pioneering work in helping to create the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of metropolitan Washington, DC.

The LGBT community is an amalgam of many small communities; as a whole it encompasses spectacular diversity of gender, race, age, class, income and wealth, geography, spirituality, education, and personal interests. Some of the institutions we have established seek to serve the LGBT community at large, but most explicitly focus on smaller communities of interest. All contribute to our overall well-being. At the same time, many members of the LGBT community have worked tirelessly and successfully to change the shape of the law, health care, social services, and personal services available to the general public in order to make them more attentive to LGBT needs.

Tens of thousands of individuals have contributed to these accomplishments. How, then, does the Rainbow History Project identify a small number of individuals for special recognition?

We start by reaching out to all of our supporters – not just board members and other volunteers, but also our advisory board, existing Community Pioneers, and the hundreds of supporters with whom we communicate by Constant Comment – asking them to submit nominations, with a brief statement of support. Since we are such a diverse community, no RHP board member will personally know all the nominees and in some cases there are nominees that none of the board members knows. Thus our next step is to do research. There is a lot of information in our current collection, but an especially effective way to expand our knowledge is to obtain the oral history of nominees. Rainbow History Project has significantly enlarged its roster of volunteers who perform oral history interviews; many recently obtained oral histories are those of Community Pioneer nominees.

Our volunteers then summarize the collected information on the nominees and present it for the board to make the final selections.

 

Dr. Herman Lynn Womack: First Amendment Pioneer

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Dr. H. Lynn (Herman Lynn) Womack was a pioneer in fighting to expand the rights of gay men to have access to gay-themed content. His efforts to fight the use of obscenity laws to prevent gay content from being distributed through the U.S. Mail resulted in key decisions from the United States Supreme Court that expanded First Amendment protections for gay men throughout the United States. This exhibit explores Womack's role as first amendment pioneer, publisher, and gay rights advocate.

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Gay Liberation Front

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The GLF-DC was founded by individuals who helped fight for civil rights and international peace in the 1960s, but found their sexuality at odds with the radical left at the time.

As Michael Ferri, a founding member of Washington DC's Gay Liberation Front recalls: “We wanted to establish that we were part of the people’s movement, that we were oppressed people, too.” [interview with Rainbow History, 02/05/06]

What started as a letter to the editor of an underground paper grew into two collective houses that worked with other justice-seeking groups, including the Black Panthers and the Gay People's Alliance, while protecting and celebrating gay sexual identity.

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Gay Women's Alternative

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The Gay Women's Alternative of DC (GWA-DC) created a safe space for lesbian women in the metropolitan area to socialize and explore relavent issues through a network of social  and educational events. The GWA-DC served as an alternative to both the closet and bars to the lesbian community of greater-Washington DC from 1981 through 1993. 

The ClubHouse, 1975-1990

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This exhibit explores the role that The ClubHouse played in the African American gay community of Washington, D.C. Opened in 1975 by Aundrea and Paulette Scott, John Eddy, Chasten Morell, and Rainey Cheeks, The ClubHouse provided the central focus of African-American gay DC social life for 15 years.

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