In the February-March 2015 Issue...
DONATE -- Keep GLBT History Alive! VOLUNTEER -- Many Ways to Get Involved
Our irreplaceable collection began in 1985
by Linnea Due

When Paula Lichtenberg hopped on an elevator at the San Francisco Main Library in March, 1985, she was pleased to find Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in the same car. "Are you going to the meeting?" they asked Lichtenberg. 

"What meeting?" Lichtenberg wondered, an innocent question whose answer would develop into a lifetime commitment to preserving gay and lesbian history. The meeting in question, called by Willie Walker, Greg Pennington, and Eric Garber, was an open-to-the-public confab about collecting gay and lesbian history. 

Says Lichtenberg about that first meeting, "There were about fifty or sixty people. A group of librarians were forming a gay library. Some people were collecting periodicals. Scott Smith had Harvey Milk's artifacts. Walker and Greg Pennington had collections, and they wanted some place to put all of these things together."

That first meeting resulted in the formation of the San Francisco Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Historical Society, which later changed its name to the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California.

Two factors were vital from the start: the organization was co-sexual--it would collect gay and lesbian artifacts and history, later broadened to include transgender and bisexual history.

The other important proviso was that the collection be accessible by the public. Those not allied with universities had difficulty accessing the small amount of material housed in academic institutions. This open-to-the-public approach was put into practice as the fledgling organization held panels and exhibits at the women's building, MCC, and other institutions.

"For the first ten years our focus was primarily on collecting materials," says Lichtenberg. "Some of our best stuff are photo albums and those sorts of things that show how people lived."

Bay Area native Linnea Due is an award-winning writer and editor. See the full version of her article here.
Article2When cross-dressing in SF was illegal
New book describes law and those who defied it

In the mid-19th century, San Francisco passed a law criminalizing cross-dressing and creating rigid definitions of gender. The history of this law, and of the brave non-conformists who defied it, is told in Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco, a new book by Clare Sears, associate professor of sociology and sexuality studies and San Francisco State University and member of the board of directors of the GLBT Historical Society.
historycalendarLGBT History Calendar
February in LGBT History

Feb.1, 1978: Robert Opel's Fey Way Gallery in S.F. opens Tom of Finland's first U.S. art exhibit.

Feb. 4, 2004 : Massachusetts high court rules that only full and equal marriage rights for gay couples, not merely civil unions, are constitutional.

Feb. 7, 2012: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California rules 2-1 that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Feb. 11, 1965: A San Francisco judge orders a jury to acquit four people arrested at a New Year's ball sponsored by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. The judge was disgusted by the actions of police, and the decision quickly becomes a landmark in the movement for gay and lesbian rights.

Feb. 12, 2004: City officials in San Francisco begin issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and perform the first known civil marriages of same-sex couples in the U.S. The mayor officiates at the first ceremony for human rights activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. More than 80 couples wed the first day.

February Birthdays
Langston Hughes

Feb. 1, 1902: Langston Hughes, poet
Feb. 3, 1874: Gertrude Stein, writer and tastemaker
Feb. 3, 1927: Kenneth Anger, avant-garde filmmaker and author
Feb. 15, 1820: Susan B. Anthony, civil rights leader
Feb. 21, 1907: W. H. Auden, poet
Feb. 23, 1685: George Frideric Handel, composer
Feb. 24, 1939: Doric Wilson, playwright
Feb. 26, 1879: Mabel Dodge Luhan, memoirist

March in LGBT History

March 3, 2002: San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center opens.

March 7, 1967: CBS airs "The Homosexuals," an episode of CBS Reports. This first-ever national television broadcast on the subject of homosexuality has been described as destructive propaganda.

March 7, 1972: East Lansing, Michigan, becomes the first U.S. city to ban discrimination in city hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.

March 12, 1987: New York City: Larry Kramer and 300 other activists form the direct action group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).

March 16, 1985: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society is founded.

March 20, 1978: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves the strongest gay-rights law in the U.S., with one dissenting vote: Supervisor Dan White.

March 22, 1972: The Equal Rights Amendment, banning discrimination on the basis of sex, passes the U.S. Senate. It failed to receive ratifications by 38 states before the 1982 deadline, so it was never adopted.

March Birthdays
Jane Rule

March 5, 1922: Pier Paolo Pasolini, poet/film director
March 6, 1475: Michelangelo Buonarroti, artist
March 9, 1892: Vita Sackville-West, writer
March 9, 1910: Samuel Barber, composer
March 10, 1934: John Rechy, author of City of Night and Rushes
March 17, 1938: Rudolf Nureyev, dancer
March 18, 1928: Edward Albee, playwright
March 21, 1901: Gavin Arthur, San Franciscan sexual philosopher
March 26, 1911: Tennessee Williams, playwright
March 28, 1931: Jane Rule, Canadian author of The Desert 
of the Heart and Lesbian Images

ArchivesAndEighteenthIn the Archives and Out on 18th Street
In the Archives

Laura Bock
We've accessioned a collection of papers documenting the life and work of Laura Bock, a lesbian feminist and disability rights and fat activist. She was born in 1945 in San Francisco, the daughter and granddaughter of socialist feminists. In her 20s she lost her eyesight due to illness. In 1980, she opened one of San Francisco's first bed-and-breakfasts, which she ran for almost 25 years. 

A founding member of Fat Lip Readers Theater, Bock wrote, directed and performed for 18 years on stage, television, radio, in trainings and workshops, on street corners, at rallies, and on video. She also served as a volunteer archivist for the GLBT Historical Society.

In 2013 she and her partner moved to a senior living community in Mill Valley, where she continues to organize. She credits the second wave of feminism for inspiring her to find her voice, her anger, her political analysis and her communities. See the finding aid for Bock's collection here.
Out on 18th Street

Reggie Williams (1951-1999) was born and raised in Cincinnati and settled in San Francisco in the early 80s. While working as an x-ray technician at UCSF, Reggie began serving men who had HIV and AIDS (then known as "Gay-Related Immune Deficiency," or GRID). Seeing that African American gay men were being marginalized by homophobia in their families and by racism in the gay community, Reggie founded the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention (NTFAP) in 1998. As the organization's executive director, Reggie rose to national prominence, and spoke on HIV/AIDS before the Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Congressional Black Caucus.
In 1994 Reggie moved to Amsterdam to be with his Dutch partner, who was unable to join Reggie in the U.S. due to the U.S. ban on immigration by HIV-positive people (which remained in effect until 2010). Reggie died of AIDS-related complications there in 1999." 

Reggie and NTFAP are featured in "Fighting for Our Lives: Four Organizations Respond to AIDS," one section of "Queer Past Becomes Present," the exhibition currently showing in the museum's Main Gallery.


EventsUpcoming Events
First Wednesday means free admission
Bob Ross Foundation logo

Admission to the GLBT History Museum  is free on the first Wednesday of each month, courtesy of the Bob Ross Foundation. Visit us on Wednesday, February 4 or Wednesday, March 4 and save a few bucks (or use them to purchase something in our gift shop)! 
The G Spot: Gentrification, Transformation and Queer San Francisco

G Spot, our 2014-15 special program series, spotlights how processes of urban renovation that once helped create spaces for queer community and culture now threaten to erase their presence. G Spot events happen at the GLBT History Museum, and are free. Register online and view the list of suggested readings. 


Christina Hanhardt, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and Priya Kandaswamy


February theme: Queer Against Gentrification 


Thursday, Februray 5, 7 - 9 p.m.

IN CONVERSATION: Tommi Avicolli Mecca, San Francisco Housing Rights Committee; Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland; Priya Kandaswamy, Mills College.


Saturday, February 28, 4 - 10 p.m.  

ARTS Program: Pop-Up Gay Bar: Ghosts of Gentrification Pub Crawl.


Red Envelope Giving Circle 3rd Annual Award Party 

On Sunday, February 8, 5 - 7 p.m., Red Envelope Giving Circle -- an Asian & Pacific Islander queer philanthropic group that promotes positive social change -- will celebrate its 2015 grantees at the GLBT History Museum.


Details here.


2015 San Francisco History Expo


The GLBT Historical Society will have an informational table at the 2015 San Francisco History Expo at The Old Mint, 88 Fifth Street, on Saturday, February 28, and Sunday, March 1. 

Details here.

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For exhibitions and programs, join us at...

The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
415-621-1107 /
Open Sunday noon-5 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.  Closed Tuesday.

For research at our Archives, come to...

The GLBT Historical Society
657 Mission Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105
415-777-5455 /
See our research hours here.