|Protesting Anita Bryant, June 1977
GLBT Historical Society co-founder
Greg Pennington moved to San Francisco in 1977. In June of that year, singer
Anita Bryant spearheaded a repeal of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Florida.
Chronicle headlined it,
" Pennington says, "`5,000 Furious Gays March in San Francisco.' Well, they marched for five days in a row. On the second night, I joined in."
From that point on, Pennington began investigating how gay news was reported in different publications. "I was already monitoring the Advocate," he explains. "I started keeping track of periodicals.
Gay Windows, The Washington Blade, Gay Community News. I started collecting publications and making chronologies."
Harvey Milk's assassination, a group convened at the home of Scott Smith, Milk's former partner. "That's where I met
Willie Walker," says Pennington.
|Willie Walker and Greg Pennington,1987
Walker explained to Pennington that he wanted to set up an archives, but he believed that its mission had to be broader than simply collecting materials. "He wanted to have educational programs and outreach," says Pennington, who agreed-"I decided I would help him make it happen." The two formed the
San Francisco Periodical Archives.
Meanwhile, other groups were meeting, such as the
Gay and Lesbian History Project. Most history project members were academics, who would meet to vet each other's research. "Walker and I went to a meeting of the history project on September 5, 1984.
Gayle [Rubin] was there, with
Allan Bérubé and
Eric Garber. We proposed to them the idea of creating a historical society. And we got a go-ahead that they would support such an organization."
|At the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 1987
The nascent group had five meetings through the holidays and into 1985. "But we wanted to get other people involved," Pennington says. "We were a group of white men and a couple of women. And we realized, you know, we've got to start this thing all over again."
With this in mind, Walker sent a letter to 160 organizations and 100 individuals inviting them to what turned out to be the pivotal meeting at the San Francisco Public Library on March 16, 1985. There were 63 people at the library that Saturday afternoon. "We made the decision that everyone at the meeting was a member," Pennington remembers. "And we chose the name, the
San Francisco Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Historical Society
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Bay Area native Linnea Due is an award-winning writer and editor.