On May 30th, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a new National Park Service initiative to explore the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. Jewell made this announcement at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York City -- currently the only National Historic Landmark celebrating LGBTQ history.
What’s this new initiative going to do? A panel of 18 scholars will spend the next two years looking at the history of our nation's LGBTQ civil rights and liberation movements, and researching stories about how queer people and communities have impacted American law, religion, media, civil rights and the arts. The panel will be evaluating historically-significant places for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, designation as National Historic Landmarks, or consideration as national monuments.
One resource the National Park Service panel on LGBTQ history is likely to turn for source material is the book The Queerest Places: A National Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites, by Paula Martinac. If you’re an amateur historian, or if you’re planning a trip to -- well, to anywhere in the U.S. -- you might want to consult this book too. It provides detailed descriptions of places which are important to both local and national queer history.
For me, the highlights of the book are the listings of local pre-Stonewall hangouts, and information about sites important to the history of the struggle for queer liberation. For example, reading the Portland section, I learned that Oregon’s first gay pride celebration was held June 28, 1971 -- a public dance in the second-floor banquet hall of the Pythian Building, at 902-918 SW Yamhill St.
Want to learn more about LGBTQ history? Browse through my reading list for some great book suggestions. Or, take a look at Peter Boag’s Oregon Encyclopedia article on the history of the Oregon gay and lesbian rights movement. And remember, librarians love helping you answer questions and satisfy your intellectual curiosity, so don’t hesitate to contact your librarian any time you have more LGBTQ history questions -- or questions on any other subject!
Also, be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park!