2015 was a big year for LGBT history. Nationwide marriage equality came to the United States, and the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly gay and bisexual adult leaders. Ireland is set to legalize same-sex marriage based on voters’ approval in May, and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender. The 50th anniversary celebration of the first Annual Reminder pickets took place in Philadelphia, where protesters had reminded Americans each July 4 that gays and lesbians were denied their civil rights.
Kansas City will host its own LGBT-related 50th anniversary in 2016. A new committee is working toward placing a marker in downtown Kansas City to commemorate two 1966 historic events.
2016 and GLAMA
The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (GLAMA) has formed a committee called LGBT-KC. Its mission is “to recognize and commemorate Kansas City, Missouri’s role in the early LGBT liberation movement and highlight the history and evolution of Kansas City’s LGBT community.”
The first public task of LGBT-KC is to gain support and authorization for a historical marker to be placed on the northeast corner of Barney Allis Plaza, catty-cornered from the site of the former State Hotel at Wyandotte and 12th Streets in Kansas City, Mo. The State Hotel was the meeting location for the first national gathering of gay rights activists – the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations – in February 1966. In that same year, activist Drew Shafer and his colleagues formed the Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom, a local gay rights organization.
Both events will be commemorated on the marker, if approved.
The committee envisions educational, informational and social activities celebrating these anniversaries for next year’s LGBT History Month.
“Kansas City is getting a lot of national attention right now, and our elected officials have made it clear they support the LGBT community,” said Stuart Hinds, assistant dean of Special Collections and Archives at Miller Nichols Library, University of Missouri-Kansas City and co-founder and curator of GLAMA.
GLAMA formed in 2009 to collect, preserve and make accessible historical materials of the LGBT communities of the Kansas City region. Its collection contains personal and organizational papers, images, magazines, ephemera, memorabilia, etc. For more information on GLAMA, the 2016 anniversaries and marker plans or to donate items to the archive, contact Hinds at 816-235-5712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLAMA is relocating to the east side of the third floor of the library. The move will quadruple its public research space, equally enlarge staff work space, and provide for a completely new exhibit gallery. An open house for the community is set for 4:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4, with brief remarks at 5:45 p.m. Supporters of GLAMA are encouraged to attend.
National Coming Out Day and LGBT History Month
National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) started in 1988, when it marked the first anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. For National Coming Out Day resources, go to hrc.org/ncod.
Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, came up with the idea for LGBT History Month in 1994. A committee composed of Wilson, Kevin Boyer, Johnda Boyce, Kevin Jennings, Jessea Greenman and Torey Wilson promoted the idea of a gay and lesbian-themed history month. Rodney Wilson chose October as the celebratory month, because it fell during the school year and already included National Coming Out Day.
The most visible administration of LGBT History Month occurs at lgbthistorymonth.com. Philadelphia-based Equality Forum runs this site, where 31 LGBT icons are honored every year. A new icon appears each day in October. The site features text and video biographies, a searchable database and educational resources. This year, former University of Missouri Tiger Michael Sam is a featured icon. In 2014, Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL.
On the Fives and Tens
1970 – June 28 – On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, more than 2,000 people marched in New York City as part of the first gay pride parade in the United States.
1975 – July 1 – The California State Legislature passed the Consenting Adult Sex Bill, legalizing homosexuality effective January 1, 1976.
1980 – July – Stephen Endean founded the Human Rights Campaign Fund as one of the first gay and lesbian political action committees in the United States.
1985 – March 26 – The U.S. Supreme Court let stand the ruling in National Gay Task Force v. Board of Education of the City of Oklahoma City, which had invalidated an Oklahoma state law that allowed teachers to be fired for advocating homosexuality.
1990 – May 17 – The General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The day is now commemorated annually as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
1995 – May 25 – In Egan v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground for discrimination under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2000 – July 1 – In Vermont, a civil union law took effect, granting most state-level marriage rights to registered same-sex couples.
2005 – July – Same-sex marriage became legal in Spain and Canada.
2010 – Dec. 22 – President Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.