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    News from the GLBT Historical Society & The GLBT History Museum


    Three Questions for Lee Callahan: ‘Becoming a Volunteer Was Long at the Top of My List’

    Lee Callahan has been a volunteer at The GLBT History Museum for nearly three years. In November 2013, he joined the board of the GLBT Historical Society — while continuing to lend a hand at the museum. A Bay Area native who works as a freelance translator and editor, Callahan has lived in Alaska, the Netherlands and Japan. He recently took a few minutes to give us an insider’s view of the role of volunteers at the Historical Society — and to talk about the contributions of transgender people to the leadership of the institution.

    How did you first get involved with the GLBT Historical Society?

    I’d known about the GLBT Historical Society for many years, and becoming a volunteer there was long at the top of my list of things that I wanted do to get more involved with my community. When I moved back to the Bay Area a few years ago, I went to the gallery space, then still located downtown, and was very impressed with an exhibition there about Lou Sullivan, a historian, gay trans man and Historical Society member who died in 1991. So when the society opened The GLBT History Museum in the Castro in 2011, I started volunteering there, at first just working the front desk and helping out at events.

    What do you find rewarding about volunteering at the museum?

    I really enjoy meeting the people who come to the museum and talking with them about our history! We have visitors from all over the world, and locals often share their knowledge about the Bay Area’s “vast queer past.” Plus I’ve been able to meet people who have played spectacular roles in our history: José Sarria, Phyllis Lyon, Cleve Jones and Susan Stryker, for example. Also, after volunteering for a while, I got trained as a docent, so now I give group tours, too, which is fun. And in the summer of 2012, I helped organize a two-part panel discussion about transgender filmmaking, which went really well.

    How has transgender leadership helped the society fulfill its mission?

    Some of the most active members of the society have been transgender, including organizer and author Lou Sullivan, an early board member; historian and filmmaker Susan Stryker, a former executive director; and longtime trans activist Felicia Elizondo, who curated our current exhibit about transgender performer Vicki Marlane. As someone who identifies as both gay and trans, I’m really proud to be part of this organization. The Historical Society belongs to trans people just as it belongs to all members of the GLBT community and those who support us — and as my experience shows, it offers all of us an opportunity to play vital roles in preserving, interpreting and sharing our history.

    Why Meet a Challenge When You Can Beat It? Donors Soar Past $17,000 Fundraising Goal

    Late last year, the City of San Francisco issued a challenge to the GLBT Historical Society in the form of a $17,000 matching grant to support The GLBT History Museum. To qualify, the society was required to raise an equal amount from new donations or increased gifts from past donors. The results are now in — and they’re spectacular.

    “Our amazing members and friends didn’t just meet the funding challenge from the City — they beat it,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the Historical Society. “Nearly 300 people donated more $50,000 to our the year-end campaign — including more than $20,000 from new donors or increased gifts. This is exactly the kind of generous support that makes it possible for the museum and archives to grow and thrive.”

    Qualifying for the grant was just one step in the Historical Society’s 2014 fundraising plan. “With all-new exhibitions and other exciting projects in the works, we’ll be counting on the community throughout the year,” Boneberg noted. The GLBT Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit; all donations are tax deductible. To make a contribution, please go to:

    Historical Society Joins Free Weekend Expo for San Francisco History Buffs, March 1-2

    The GLBT Historical Society will join more than 40 other San Francisco historical, cultural and preservation organizations at the annual San Francisco History Expo, set for Saturday, March 1, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, March 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at San Francisco’s historic Old Mint building at 5th and Mission.

    Sponsored by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, the expo is open to the public with a sliding-scale admission of $5.00. Participating organizations will display mini-museums from their diverse collections. In addition, special presentations and films on local history will be offered both days.

    On Sunday, March 1, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., the Historical Society will present “Lost and Found: Searching for LGBT Historic Sites in San Francisco.” Donna Graves, a public historian, and Gerard Koskovich, a curator at The GLBT History Museum, will survey queer historic places that San Francisco has lost, and will discuss the ways a new City-funded study cosponsored by the society will help identify the numerous sites of LGBT history that still exist.

    For more details, visit:

    The GLBT History Museum: 4127 18th Street, San Francisco; 415-621-1107;

    GLBT Historical Society: 657 Mission Street, Suite 300, San Francisco; 415-777-5455, ext. 3#;