Three Questions for Mark Leno: A Critical Time to Preserve and Celebrate LGBTQ History
by Terry Beswick
Mark Leno has been a San Francisco resident since the mid-1970s. During his first two decades in the city, he was active as a small business owner and a fundraiser for AIDS organizations, the LGBT Community Center and Democratic candidates. He went on to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1998 to 2001, then was elected to two terms in the California State Assembly starting in 2002, followed by two terms in the California State Senate from 2008 through 2016. Throughout his service as an elected official, Leno has been a forceful advocate for LGBTQ equality. Currently a candidate for mayor of San Francisco, Leno serves as a co-chair of the GLBT Historical Society's National Advisory Council. In this exclusive interview, he responds to our questions about the significance of the queer past.   
Why is representing diversity important in the context of LGBTQ history and the broader history of social justice in this country?
Preserving LGBTQ history that honors the diversity of all communities presents a unique opportunity to foster equity and justice. So much of LGBTQ history -- and the history of all marginalized communities -- has been systematically and institutionally silenced, making the task of historical and cultural preservation as important as it is challenging. As the author of the Fair Accurate Inclusive and Respectful Education Act, which requires California K-12 schools to provide a history and social studies curriculum that includes the contributions of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities, I've seen firsthand the power of telling stories that recognize all voices. By ensuring a seat at the table for everyone, we can uphold a vision of history that honors all those who played a part in creating it.
Are we are doing enough to preserve our LGBTQ culture and history in the challenging economic environment of San Francisco today?
The LGBTQ community has faced enormous threats, to both our communities and the spaces we hold dear, in the face of gentrification and displacement. We've seen the loss of LGBTQ-owned small businesses, displacement of our seniors and community-serving institutions, and rising costs of living and housing that force out countless residents. But as the challenges facing our community persist, like every struggle marking our history, there is a tireless fight to overcome them. From organizations like Openhouse working to keep our seniors housed, to out-of-the-box efforts like The Stud Co-op forming the nation's first cooperatively owned nightlife venue and bar, historic queer spaces and vital LGBTQ services are being creatively and boldly fought for. It's time our local and national policies reflect the same urgent need to protect and preserve. As a San Francisco supervisor, an assemblymember and a state senator, I remained committed to advancing such policies. If elected mayor, I'll proudly continue those efforts.
Our strategy is to partner with the city and a developer to create space for a world-class queer public history center. As mayor, would you help lead this effort?
If I have the privilege of serving San Francisco as mayor, I would be honored to lead efforts to make the creation of the New Museum of LGTBQ History and Culture possible. As we continue to resist the national assault on LGBTQ people, there's never been a more critical time to preserve our history and create spaces that celebrate it. San Francisco deserves a museum that honors the beauty and diversity of our history despite efforts to erase it.

Terry Beswick is executive director of the GLBT Historical Society.
FromEDFrom the Development Director
What Drives My Passion for Queer History
by Sean Greene  
As the new development director for the GLBT Historical Society, I'm excited about working with our supporters, members, volunteers, staff and board to make sure our queer past has a great future. My own history will give you a sense of what I bring to the job -- and why I leapt at the opportunity.    
For as long as I can remember, I have been active in giving back to my community. From school fundraisers and performances to volunteering and marching against inequality in college. So. Much. Marching. My activism led me to Manhattan working for AIDS Walk New York and Condé Nast and volunteering as an abortion-clinic escort in the mid-90s.
Missing the California snow-free winters, I moved cross-county again, this time making my home in San Francisco, and here I've stayed for the past 22 years. I arrived before the first dot-com explosion. And naturally, I did what all the other twentysomethings were doing: I became a web developer and a DJ. I didn't know it at the time, but my subsequent years of DJ-ing and party producing were actually building vital skills -- just not for work as a DJ or a party producer.
A New Sense of Camaraderie 
In 2007 I was asked to coproduce of the first Bay of Pigs dance party with Folsom Street Events, then I was then invited to join their board of directors. My time on the Folsom board broadened my appreciation for our global community. Witnessing people from all over the world come here for the chance to express themselves, even for just a short time, awakened a new sense of camaraderie in me.
The years of DJ schmoozing and event planning led me seamlessly into development work with nonprofits such as the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund and the AIDS Emergency Fund. In addition, I volunteer at Hospitality House, SOMCAN (South of Market Community Action Network) and other amazing organizations. Recognizing the deep roots of these nonprofits has helped me further appreciate the importance of our LGBTQ heritage.

That's my story. What's yours? I'd love to get a chance to talk with you and find out what drives your passion for queer history. Together, I know we can discover, preserve and share the stories of the LGBTQ past that can inspire us to carry on our movement for equality and respect today and tomorrow.
Sean Greene is development director for the GLBT Historical Society. Contact him at
ArchivesIn the Archives 
by Mark Sawchuk

The archives of the GLBT Historical Society are committed to documenting the diversity of the LGBTQ community and the intersectional lives of its members. One reflection of this commitment is our holdings on LGBTQ people with disabilities, including community members who joined the disability rights movement that emerged in the 1970s.
One of our larger collections addressing the subject is the records of Able-Together, a San Francisco-based international organization in the 1990s. Through social activities and a magazine, Able-Together: A Forum for Men With and Without Disabilities, the group facilitated romantic and erotic contacts for gay and bisexual men with disabilities, who often faced discrimination at bars, sex clubs and other gay venues.
Our archives also contain personal papers of LGBTQ people with disabilities, including a number who were engaged in advocating change as both performers and activists. To cite just two examples:
  • The papers of Julia "Dolphin" Trahan, a lesbian artist and disability rights activist, provide a window into her performances in the 1990s, including one entitled "Body Talk = Survival: Intersections of Disability, Race and Sex."
  • The papers of Diane Hugaert contain materials related to her work with Wry Crips, a theater group for women with disabilities founded in Berkeley in 1985 and still active today.
Those interested the disability rights movement also will find an important source in the Daniel A. Smith videotapes. This collection includes an unreleased 31-minute documentary by Smith, "Sign 504 Now," about a four-week sit-in by disability rights protestors at a federal office in San Francisco in the late 1970s.

To learn more about the GLBT Historical Society's collections on disability, search our online archives catalog. And if you have materials reflecting the lives of LGBTQ people with disabilities you might wish to donate, email our managing archivist, Joanna Black
Mark Sawchuk is a member of the GLBT Historical Society Communications Working Group. 
UpcomingUpcoming Events   
Author Talk
Red Diaper Daughter: Rebels & Revolutionaries
Thursday, January 11             
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum   
4127 18th Street  
$5.00  |  Free for members      
Author Laura Bock will read and tell stories from her new memoir, Red Diaper Daughter: Three Generations of Rebels and Revolutionaries (Second Wave Press). The term "red diaper baby" suits her perfectly: Her parents were committed left-wing radicals. Their activism was part of the air she breathed growing up in the 1950s, and later, the inspiration for her involvement in the civil rights, anti-war, feminist, disability rights and lesbian movements. Meanwhile, she was running her own business, Bock's Bed and Breakfast, in her family's historic home near Golden Gate Park. Bock's memoir is a vividly written, revealing and often funny look at her family and her life choices through more than six decades of U.S. history. Bock's papers are housed at the GLBT Historical Society, where she has been a volunteer for many years. Join the Facebook conversation here
History Talk
How Has Hollywood (Mis)Represented Homosexuality?
Thursday, January 18            
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco  
$5.00  |  Free for members     
Using trailers from mainstream movies from the 1960s and 1970s -- including Myra Breckinridge, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Children's Hour and The Killing of Sister George -- queer cultural historian Jim Van Buskirk will investigate Hollywood's depiction of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. The talk is designed to spark a lively discussion of understandings of sexuality and gender and how they are reflected in -- and influenced by -- images on the silver screen. Van Buskirk is an author, professional group facilitator and film buff. Among his books is Celluloid San Francisco (Chicago Review Press, 2006). Join the Facebook conversation here
Club Night
Carry On: Your Political PTSD Cure
Saturday, January 20             
9:00 PM-2:00 AM 
Gray Area Art + Technology  
2665 Mission St., San Francisco  
$12 | $25 | $50   
Has it only been a year since the inauguration? Join us to treat that political PTSD, celebrate our victories and recharge for Year 2 with a night of art, resistance and dancing, dancing, dancing at Gray Area in the Mission District. Following the Women's March taking place at San Francisco Civic Center and in cities around the United States on the same day, "Carry On: Your Political PTSD Cure" launches our History Is Resistance campaign to expand community support for the GLBT Historical Society. Each ticket includes a one-year membership, which gives you free admission to the GLBT History Museum, discounts at the museum store and other benefits. Music by The Carry Nation (New York City) and Carrie Morrison (San Francisco). Curated by Leo Herrera of Herrera Studio and The GLBT Historical Society. Purchase your tickets here
Community Forum
Fighting Back: Disability & the LGBTQ Community 
Wednesday, January 24             
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco  
Free Admission  |  $5.00 donation welcome       
The latest in the GLBT Historical Society's monthly "Fighting Back" series exploring contemporary queer issues in a historical context, "Disability and the LGBTQ Community" will offer a multigenerational conversation about relations and intersections between the LGBTQ and disability communities. A panel of historians, veteran organizers and younger activists will discuss the history of challenges and successes related to disability awareness, discrimination and activism within the LGBTQ community and how this history can help inform today's resistance movements. Join the Facebook conversation here
Closing Reception
OUT/LOOK & the Birth of the Queer 
Friday, January 26  
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco 
$5.00  |  Free for members  
We mark the closing weekend of our innovative exhibition "OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer" with a public reception featuring a gallery tour by curator E.G. Crichton and a celebration of the participating artists and writers, many of whom will attend the event. The exhibition highlights the story of OUT/LOOK, a groundbreaking national queer quarterly published in San Francisco from 1988 to 1992, via displays of historical materials as well as new work created by 38 culture-makers inspired by the journal. The show and its associated publication and website are structured to encourage intergenerational conversations about the legacy of OUT/LOOK and its era. Discounted copies of the new issue of OUT/LOOK created for the show will be available, and light refreshments will be served. Join the Facebook conversation here 

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The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-1107
Monday & Wednesday - Saturday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 PM

The GLBT Historical Society
989 Market St., Lower Level
San Francisco, CA 94103-1708
(415) 777-5455 

Call to schedule a research appointment.

CREDITS: Feature Photo: J. Alex Photography. In the Archives: Cover of Able-Together (fall 1999); collection of the GLBT Historical Society. Red Diaper: Courtesy Second Wave Press. Hollywood Talk: Detail of the poster for The Children's Hour (1961); courtesy Jim Van Buskirk. Fighting Back: Disability rights contingent in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade (1977); photo: Marie Ueda. OUT/LOOK: Cover of OUT/LOOK No. 17 (2017).

Gerard Koskovich       Design: PEPE Creatives

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