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Introducing the Local History Project

Randy Potts

July 20th, 2012

“Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all of a sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryants and John Briggs’ are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide. And then one day that child might open the paper that says ‘Homosexual elected in San Francisco’ and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight.” – Harvey Milk

Recorded history is the story of those whom record it, and far too much slips away into nothing because “it just isn’t important enough, no one would want to read it, it’s just us and not some celebrity, it happened in Boise and not New York, and I wouldn’t know what to say, anyway.”  And then it’s gone.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, we believe it is important. Much of the history of our community is lost to us because someone didn’t think that it was worth recording their little protest, their school board vote, or their recollection of how Wakatomika treated the “bachelors” who lived two blocks over. But the history of gay New York and gay San Francisco are not true histories without the history of gay Muncie and gay Provost as well. Contrary to the perception created by gay fiction and political success, we did not all flee the heartland for the Coasts.

So we are inviting our readers – and their friends – to share a larger history, a broader perspective, with each other. If you have a recollection of the day that you met Christine Jorgenson or the years that you lobbied your local library to include the Advocate, we want to hear it. Just email Timothy Kincaid (timothydkinla@yahoo.com) or Randy Potts (randyrpotts@gmail.com) and tell us your story in your own words. And we are not limiting this to “the fly-over states”. Local history is a history of neighborhoods, as well, and if you lobbied the Santa Monica City Council or even threw a brick at Stonewall, your perspective is unique and adds flavor and breadth to the story. Just tell us what you know, what you saw, what you did.

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homer
July 20th, 2012 | LINK

I have collected LGBT materials from here in Arizona- newspaper articles, copies of magazines and newspapers from the LGBT community, posters, and other materials and have donated these to the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, where it is available as a manuscript collection MS 1437. I did this because there was nothing readily available on the history of our people in any of the major institutions in Arizona. I also encourage other people to do the same.

Blake
July 20th, 2012 | LINK

Here in Atlanta we have a wonderful program that puts on lectures and discussion groups fairly regularly. Y’all should get in touch.

http://www.touchingupourroots.org/

Lindoro Almaviva
July 20th, 2012 | LINK

Unrelated, but important. Hsve you guys seen the quote joe.my.god has o Alan Chambers?

Thomas Kraemer
July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Jonathon Ned Katz became a gay history pioneer in the 1970s after he recognized that most minority children, unlike gay children, usually have a family member of the same minority who can share their family history. To help, he set out to preserve gay history, but it was skewed toward LA and NY. In response, he helped start OutHistory.org at the City University of New York. It is now supported by the University of Chicago. In 2010, it got a grant to collect local gay histories. OutHistory recognizes that all history is local. I have seen firsthand the importance of localizing gay history after I submitted one about Corvallis, Oregon State University, I saw young students get hooked in by the local history content and then they went on to learn much more about their own history, which is something that their straight family members could not share with them. I hope any work you collect can also be posted on this important gay history site.

sueanne
July 26th, 2012 | LINK

The St Louis History Museum has a small area of Gay history. It was so nice to turn the corner with our son and say we were part of this………..

Ray
July 27th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t understand what kinds of stories qualify for this project. Stonewall? Lobbying the city council?

My advocacy has been personal. I was close to being a grandparent when the seeming “popularity” of being a gay parent got off the ground. Meanwhile, I’d already been standing my ground as a gay parent in spite of having my house shot at, my property vandalized and my kid taunted. As a family we experience living hell and had to fight back against school teachers, principles, kids and their parents who didn’t want us in the neighborhood. I wouldn’t do it again for **anything** but we were simply against a wall and had no where else to go. So, I didn’t do any the high profile advocacy unless you could call throwing donation dollars at Human Right Campaign and Lamba Legal sufficiently high-profile.

I read today’s story about the Blackfoot boy who was barred from the boy scouts. It was a terrible experience for him but I don’t see how it matches the public advocacy the project asks for. I was pretty much the same kind of gender non-conforming kid and I have the emotional scars to prove it. To “advocate” I have to face down my right-wing, fundamentalist Christian siblings and family just to go to a family reunion or a funeral. And generally speaking, I have to do it all by myself.

Timothy Kincaid
July 27th, 2012 | LINK

Ray,

yes and yes

Pretty much anything that shares your advocacy or your perspective or just some experience, be it personal or on a grand scale. It’s not a competition, it’s a sharing of our lives. History books catch the Name, Date, Place type of events, but we are trying to put the human face on it. It’s the small stuff – or even the small way you impacted the big stuff – that makes a history story real.

This week’s story was Frankie’s. Email us yours.

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