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Friday, November 5, 2010

LGBT History: It's Not Just for October

October was officially LGBT History Month but time passed me by and I am just now posting an image from the National Museum of American History Archives Center’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection. The modern gay rights movement began on June 28, 1969, with rioting at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City.  
Precipitated by a police raid, the initial riot led to five days of protest. These protests helped motivate the gay community to seek equal rights under the law and acceptance by society. The movement has since grown to address the civil rights of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.
Cover of Gay Power, Vol. 1, #1, from the
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender Collection, 1953-2010

This image is taken from the cover of Gay Power, Volume 1, #1, the first gay bi-weekly newspaper, which began publication in New York City in September 1969 just months after the Stonewall riots. Edited by John Heys, a drag queen, performance artist, and visual artist, and published by Joel Fabricant, subscription rates were ten dollars for a year, fifteen for a two-year subscription. One hallmark of the paper was its psychedelic covers. This first issue included a report on the fourth annual convention of North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (N.A.C.O.) that was held in Kansas City during August. There were articles on astrology and politics, a sampling of poetry, a
pull-out centerfold, and photographs. The issue also advertised the opening of Charles Ludlam’s "The Grand Tarot" with a photograph of a man wearing the Mario [sic] Montez costume, holding a Gay Power banner. Ludlam was the founder of the Ridiculous Theatre Company and his play, "The Mystery of Irma Vep" (possibly his most famous), would be written in 1984.

In the first “Statement” Hey writes, “Whatever examples of gay power have been demonstrated thus far, whether it be through straight media or on the part of homosexuals themselves--it's either met with some kind of legal or ignorant interference or too one-sided a picture has been presented. Variety is still the spice of life and ‘GAY POWER’ is by and for all people.”

Franklin Robinson, Jr., Archives Technician,

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