Oral History Interview with Tom Bower, 1948-


Oral History Interview with Tom Bower, 1948-


Moriah Petty interviews Tom Bower, a Catholic gay-identified man who has lived in DC since the 1960s working in museums and organizing the LGBTQ Catholics and greater gay community.


19 March 2016


1950s-present. Tom Bower was an early organizer of the Washington DC chapter of Dignity, a group for Catholic LGBT-identified individuals and remains an active participant. It is a support system and a social justice organization that donates to community groups. Tom speaks of his dual-identity as Catholic and gay and his personal choice to stick with his faith. He describes the ways Dignity was embraced by DC Catholics and the times when they faced discrimination and rejection form the Church. Tom has lived in Washington DC since the 1960s and worked in the Smithsonian museums. Due to the intellectual and artistic leaning of his job and social circles, Tom found fairly easy acceptance as an out gay man. He describes attending the first Pride parade (more of a rally), the demographics of the gay community over the decades, the gay job network, and popular gathering places such as leather bar The Eagle, P St. Beach and Lamda Rising bookstore. He shares memories of the AIDS crisis including seeing the memorial quilt on the Mall and volunteering for the Whitman Walker clinic. Tom reflects on his childhood growing up in the Midwest with zero visibility of LGBT individuals and of knowing his sexual orientation but not how to express it. He is out to his family. Tom Bower is interviewed by Moriah Petty.


Moriah Petty


Thomas Bower


Interviewee's home in Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.


No, not yet available.

Original Format

Yes, recording available.




“Oral History Interview with Tom Bower, 1948-,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed June 22, 2018, http://rainbowhistory.omeka.net/items/show/4939482.