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    News from the GLBT Historical Society & The GLBT History Museum

    1964: The Year San Francisco Came Out: Fifty years ago, an infamous LIFE magazine article catapulted San Francisco into national consciousness as the “gay capital” of America. Titled “Homosexuality In America,” the article represented tensions between the larger culture’s notions of queerness and what was emerging into open view in San Francisco.

    Join us at the GLBT History Museum on Friday, July 18, 7-9 p.m. for the opening reception for “1964: The Year San Francisco Came Out,” an exhibition that celebrates the pivotal moment when queer people began to define themselves on their own terms.

    It does so by exploring the powerful convergence of events and people—both local and national, queer and straight—that turned what could have been a shameful outing into an irrevocable, determined stepping out of the closet.

    The exhibition is curated by community historian Paul Gabriel.

    Society Gets $75 Grant from National Archives

    The GLBT Historical Society has received another generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (part of the National Archives) to support an 18-month archival project. In this project, called “Visions and Voices of GLBT History,” we’ll complete a survey of all our audiovisual and photograph collections, process as much of our backlog as we can (close to 200 linear feet), and prioritize materials for future digitization.

    Many of our historically rich collections contain audiovisual and photographic materials that are inaccessible to researchers because they have not yet been sorted and catalogued. The old adage “a picture is worth 1,000 words” is especially resonant in the LGBT community where, even in 2014, it is still rare for people who do not identify as heterosexual to see representations of themselves.

    “The Mary Richards collection is an example of the materials we’ll be able to process thanks to this grant,” said GLBTHS archivist Marjorie Bryer. “It contains more than 150 audiotaped interviews with notable community leaders, such as José Sarria and Pat Norman.”

    We previously received an NHPRC grant in 2011, which enabled us to survey and process our manuscript collections.

    glbthis2In the Archives

    GLBT people have played significant roles in the history of the Bay Area tech community. Two interesting organizations are represented by collections we have accessioned (processed into our archives) this year. High Tech Gays filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in 1984, protesting a policy that denied security clearances to queer people. In 1990 they lost, but in 1995, Clinton ended the policy by executive order. (Fun fact: the DoD unit with the offending policy was the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office, or DISCO). Digital Queers was a San Francisco-based non-profit that helped GLBT organizations upgrade their technology and increase their access to the Internet in the 90’s.

    Out on 18th Street

    Meet Cees van Aalst, one of the friendly volunteers at the GLBT History Museum, who answers questions and listens to the stories visitors tell about their own experiences with LGBT issues and history. He grew up in a conservative Protestant home in the Netherlands, and moved to the US in 1958. He worked for Pan Am airlines, and retired in 1986.

    “I enjoy meeting people from all over the globe, and occasionally I meet people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of LGBT issues,” Cees said. “I think the museum helps to dispel any wrong notions people may have about us and our ‹lifestyle. I give everyone a warm welcome and a positive view.”

    Want to become a museum volunteer, like Cees? Contact Jeremy Prince at

    Other Upcoming Events

    On Tuesday, July 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., come to the GLBT History Museum for a talk by lesbian playwright Terry Baum titled “Lorena Hickok: Butch Dyke, Renowned Journalist & Eleanor Roosevelt’s lover.” “Hick” was the most famous woman journalist of her day when she and the future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fell in love; she lived in the White House and was often at Roosevelt’s side. $5 donation requested; members always admitted free.

    On Thursday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. the GLBT History Museum will present a special program celebrating the upcoming ebook release of Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out (1991), co-edited by Loraine Hutch­ins and Lani Ka’ahumanu.

    Ka’ahumanu will read from the work along with other contributors to the groundbreaking anthology, including Kuwaza Imara, Carol Queen, Naomi Tucker, and Charles J. Barragan. The event will benefit the GLBT History Museum and the Bay Area Bisexual Network. $5 donation requested; members always admitted free.

    On Thursday, July 31, from 7 to 9 p.m., come to the GLBT History Museum for a slide lecture on the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, a queer-friendly union that organized workers on Pacific cruise ships. The lecture, based on research by the late historian Allan Bérubé, will be presented by Estelle Freedman, professor of US history at Stanford University. $5 donation requested; members always admitted free.

    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#;