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    News from the GLBT Historical Society & The GLBT History Museum

    Museum Undergoing Major Transformation


    Since April 1, the Main Gallery of the GLBT History Museum has been closed for installation of a new exhibit. It will reopen May 15. This is the first entirely new Main Gallery exhibit since the museum opened in 2011.

    “The extraordinarily successful run of our first Main Gallery exhibit, ‘Our Vast Queer Past,’ set a high standard,” Executive Director Paul Boneberg said. “Now we’re building on that experience to present new stories in a powerful way.”


    Among the more dramatic changes will be the redesign of the gallery. Craig Harris, who created the overall museum design three years ago, has returned to design the new Main Gallery exhibit. Elisabeth Cornu, formerly with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is leading the installation team.

    “The new gallery will be darker in background color and more clearly delineated from the front of the museum,” Cornu said. “This will allow us to feature more multi-media.”

    The new exhibit, “Queer Past Becomes Present,” will open May 15. The lead curators are Jim Van Buskirk, coauthor of Gay By the Bay, and Dr. Amy Sueyoshi, author of Queer Compulsions and Associate Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. Associate curators include Boneberg, Juliet Demeter, Darren Arquero and Dave Reichard.


    “‘Queer Past Becomes Present’ showcases how queer history informs the present and inspires us to build a community that embraces difference,” Dr. Sueyoshi said. “History is not something locked in the past but rather makes the present more compelling.”

    Admission will be waived during the new exhibit installation process.

    In the Archives

    The GLBT Historical Society continues to process collections of historical materials with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The latest collections processed include the papers of Dr. Tom Waddell (1937-1987), the gay Olympic athlete who founded the Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982.

    The collection includes memorabilia related to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where Waddell competed in the Decathlon, and from the Gay Games, which Waddell originally called the Gay Olympics until a successful lawsuit by the U.S. Olympic Committee prohibited him from using the name. Also in the collection is correspondence between Waddell and his first lover, Enge Menaker, a radical socialist journalist more than 40 years his senior, whom he met in 1959.

    In later years, Waddell worked at the City Clinic in the Civic Center; after his death it was renamed for him. His fight against AIDS is depicted in the documentary “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.”

    The collection was donated to the GLBT Historical Society by Sara Waddell Lewinstein.

    The processing of the 8.8 linear feet of material by archivist Marjorie Bryer culminated in a comprehensive finding aid which can be found on our website and on the site for the Online Archive of California ( The OAC provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 200 contributing institutions in California.

    Out on 18th Street

    During the overhaul of the Main Gallery at the GLBT History Museum, our Front Gallery will continue to present “The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus: Celebrating 35 Years of Activism Through Song.” The exhibit includes a tour recognition certificate from the SFGMC’s 1981 national tour. The tour ended with a triumphant homecoming to 18th and Castro Streets, which was itself featured as a postscript in a letter from the fictional Michael Tolliver to Mary Ann and Brian in Armistead Maupin’s 1981 Further Tales of the City.

    Upcoming Events

    • Colla Voce Concert Benefits GLBT Historical Society

    Saturday, April 26, 4 pm

    St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 101 Gold Mine Drive in Diamond Heights

    You are cordially invited to Colla Voce’s benefit concert for the GLBT Historical Society! It is with “Pride and Joy” that Colla Voce presents songs by gay composers like Elton John, Steven Sondheim, Robert Seeley, and Eric Lane Barnes (just to name a few). You’ll also hear songs of activism like “Marry Us,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “The Great Peace March.” And how could we possibly skip the showtunes?

    • Gala Date…Unmasked!

    We are happy to announce that Wednesday, October 29, will be a great night to celebrate queer San Francisco’s rich history and vibrant present. That’s when the GLBT Historical Society’s 2014 Unmasked Gala will happen at the elegant Contemporary Jewish Museum in Yerba Buena/SOMA.

    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#;