Browse Exhibits (6 total)

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


"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.


Gay Liberation Front


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


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. 

Community Pioneers: Creators of DC's LGBTQ Communities


In 2003, Rainbow History Project established the Community Pioneer Award to recognize people whose contributions to LGBTQ communities of greater metropolitan Washington DC merited special commendation. The recipients of this award are chosen for their pioneering work to establish the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities of today's DMV.

Our LGBTQ community is an amalgam of many communities and identities. Some of our institutions seek to serve the entire LGBTQ community, but most focus explicitly on smaller, affinity-based communities. As a whole it encompasses diversity of genders, races, ages, classes, incomes and wealth, social and physical geographies, spiritualities, sexualities, educational backgrounds, personal interests, and gender expressions.

All LGBTQ institutions contribute to our overall well-being. They work tirelessly to change the shape of the law, health care, social and personal services available to the general public in order to make them more attentive to LGBTQ needs. Tens of thousands of individuals have contributed to these myriad accomplishments.

How, then, does the Rainbow History Project recognize a mere handful of individuals for special commendation on behalf of our localof LGBTQ communities?

We start by reaching out to all of our supporters – not just board members and volunteers, but also our advisory board, existing Community Pioneers, and the hundreds of members who participate in our activities – asking them to submit nominations, with a brief statement of support.

Since we are such a diverse community, no RHP member could personally know all the nominees and in some cases there are nominees that none of the current members know at all. Thus, we conduct research in our own collections, but we also record oral histories of nominees to expand the documentation of their efforts on our behalf.

Volunteers and members summarize the information, present it for feedback and selection, and publish the announcements to our site, and then honor the new Community Pioneers at our awards reception.

In October 2018, Rainbow History Project will be honoring the newest class of Community Pioneers. To nominate someone, assist with this project, or attend the ceremony, please contact us at


Dr. Herman Lynn Womack: First Amendment Pioneer


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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The ClubHouse, 1975-1990


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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