Event Will Mark the 10th Anniversary of LGBT Archive’s Founding

The reception for an exhibit opening at Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA) will also celebrate 10 years of discovery, preservation and research at the archive, which started in late 2009.

The new exhibit will highlight materials in GLAMA’s collections, as well as award-winning student work based on research done at the archive. It will consist of a panel exhibit available for viewing during regular library hours through the end of March 2020.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 (bit.ly/2khNdgy), at UMKC Miller Nichols Library, third floor, 800 E. 51st St, Kansas City, Mo. At 6 p.m., remarks will start, featuring Bonnie Postlethwaite, dean of libraries; Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections & Archives and co-founder of GLAMA; a student; and a donor.

Dress is casual, and the event is free, but registration is required here: bit.ly/2lQli81.

GLAMA history
GLAMA started as a collaboration among the UMKC Miller Nichols Library, the Kansas City Museum, and the Jackson County (Mo.) Historical Society. Its co-founders and their titles at the time of founding were Stuart Hinds, head of LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC; Christopher Leitch, director, Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall; and David W. Jackson, the director of archives and education at the Jackson County (Mo.) Historical Society in Independence.
Initially, three-dimensional objects (items other than printed material or digital media) were accepted as donations (although they are not any longer). Examples include Mike Sugnet’s AIDS Walk T-shirt collection and the Bruce Winter & Kirk Nelson Collection of Melinda Ryder costumes. These collections are held at the Kansas City Museum.

Today, two-dimensional donations and oral histories continue to be accepted. These include publications, memorabilia, ephemera such as matchbooks and promotional items, personal papers, etc.

GLAMA is often now referred to as GLAMA at UMKC. Support for and management of GLAMA centers on UMKC. The two other founding organizations no longer provide active support for the archive. The vast majority of the archive is housed as a component of LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC and curated by Stuart Hinds.

Student projects, lectures and individual and course-related research are examples of works spawned by the archive.

Over the years, individuals and groups have donated some of their historical items for preservation, such as promotional material for Heartland Men’s Chorus and items from Lavender Ladies. Others include:

  • Mid-America Freedom Band Collection, concert programs and memorabilia.
  • Jim Wanser Collection, materials about the UMKC LGBT Initiative and its development into the university’s LGBT Office.
  • Spirit of Hope MCC Church Scrapbooks, 1960s-1980s.
  • Linda Wilson Collection, materials relating to Willow Productions, which brings women musicians and entertainment to the Kansas City region.
  • David Wayne Reed Collection, materials from Late Night Theatre Productions.
  • PFLAG-KC Collection, newsletters, training materials and promotional items.
  • Bob Minor Collection, issues of The Liberty Press.
  • Kay Madden Collection, material from her legal advocacy for Kansas City’s LGBTQ community.
  • John Long Collection, issues of Camp magazine, starting in June 2004.

Besides Camp and Liberty Press, LGBT publications in the archives include Alternate News, Current News, KC Exposures, The Phoenix newsletter and many more.

Past events and projects
GLAMA has participated in many local events over the years:

  • It hosted Mickey Ray (Michael A. Pfleger), partner of the late local activist Drew Shafer, a key figure in Kansas City’s early gay civil rights movement. Ray spoke at an OutFest symposium in 2011 at UMKC.
  • The traveling exhibition Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945, created by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was displayed at Miller Nichols Library.
  • With the cooperation of GLAMA and others, StoryCorps OutLoud came to town and collected interviews dealing with LGBTQ struggle, friendship, loss, growing up, coming out, wisdom and family.
  • Various GLAMA benefits have been held throughout the years, including the Trolley Tours where guide Ross Freese narrated one-hour excursions that detailed Kansas City’s LGBT history.
  • In October 2016, a permanent historical marker was placed in downtown Kansas City, commemorating the 1966 meeting of the local Phoenix Society with other national homophile groups that took place in Kansas City, a significant precursor to the Stonewall Riots that is still unknown to many.
  • A traveling exhibit called Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights was created.
  • In 2017, Austin Williams premiered his film The Ordinance Project, which tells the story of how local activists fought in 1990 for the passage of a municipal nondiscrimination ordinance in Kansas City, Mo. Williams did much of his research for the film at GLAMA.
  • A banner from the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation that identified the Kansas City contingent was discovered in materials donated by Ardie Viet.

GLAMA’s plans
A screening of The Ordinance Project will take place in the near future.

A new website for GLAMA is in the works. It will have enhanced audio and video content and nearly 70 oral histories. An interactive timeline will aid users’ navigation through time.

In 2018, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day, students in UMKC’s LGBT history course (“Beyond the Rainbow: Gay and Lesbian History in Kansas City and Beyond”) interviewed people who had lived through the rough early days of the AIDS crisis. This work will be available on the new website.

Do you have items to donate?
As always, Hinds encourages everyone to take a look at the LGBT-related items they have amassed in their households and consider that they might be worth donating to the archive. Are you holding onto something unique? Is your story about Kansas City’s LGBT history worth recording for posterity? It just might be.

Two things for which Hinds has been searching are items related to early 1980s gay pride festivals and more historical copies of Alternate News.

Anything that could shine a light on Kansas City LGBT life before the present day might be welcomed as a new item in the archive.

For more information on GLAMA, or to research or donate, go to umkc.edu/glama.

Stuart Hinds

The Co-Founders Look Ahead

Stuart Hinds, GLAMA’s curator, works at UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library as curator of Special Collections & Archives.

Stuart Hinds now serves as curator of Special Collections & Archives at UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library. He’s been with GLAMA from the beginning, guiding it as it grows.

A couple of GLAMA highlights for Hinds have been the placing of the historic marker downtown and teaching LGBT history in the course called “Beyond the Rainbow” at UMKC, which he has done many times. It’s one of the anchor courses that fulfills a general education requirement for undergraduates. Several choices are offered, under the broader title “Telling Stories: History, Memory, and American Life.” Hinds believes that civil rights achievements parallel history, so we must remember our past.

Hinds is excited about a new collection, still in progress: a large number of titles from Naiad Press, which was a publishing company dedicated to lesbian literature. Its founders, Barbara Grier and Donna McBride, were Kansas Citians.

Grateful for the generosity of GLAMA donors, Hinds believes that donating can help to bring them peace of mind, knowing that their contributions will live on beyond them.

He looks forward to another decade of discovery.

Christopher LeitchChristopher Leitch is now the public information officer for the Johnson County, Kan., Library system.

“An archivist, librarian or artist might … state that history is told by the evidence. Stories of the past are generally pieced together from scraps, chips and fragments that manage somehow to survive. When there is no material to interpret, there is no documentation, no confirmation that a culture, group or person existed at all.

“I understood this clearly, as an educator and museum professional, when invited to join the nascent GLAMA project to begin formally collecting, preserving and interpreting local LGBT material culture. The existence of items such as images, documents and objects from marginalized communities … inserts the stories such materials represent into larger historical dialogues. A narrative becomes dominant in the absence of contradiction or expansion. Therefore, I wanted to help our community’s history become more interesting and authentic, less monolithic, by the addition of all its elements.

“The need for such collections is social as well as historical. LGBT people continue to struggle for recognition as whole and complete citizens in many areas of our country and around the world. Our trans sisters of color are being assaulted and murdered in horrifying numbers. Suicides by bullied teens are shockingly frequent. To be visible is to be valid. When evidence of our communities is seen, and seen as valued, those who are challenged may be helped to understand they are not alone, that they are part of a ‘we’ that has existed and thrived throughout human history. Their individual life is part of this grand narrative of the ages. They matter.

“There is a lot to love and marvel at, yet my favorite GLAMA collection is the one we don’t have yet. Our LGBT citizens and communities are diverse and engrossing, and there is so much work for us to do. I’d like to expand that ‘us’ of GLAMA. Like many similar endeavors across the country, we’re doing really well collecting the history of (mostly) middle-class white people. Too, it has been some work to solidify and stabilize the growth of the collection in the university environment. Now it’s time to welcome additional advisory and curatorial voices to the table to help build collections and activities. I want GLAMA to be able to continue telling timely and relevant stories about our LGBTQ+ pasts, presents and futures.”

David W. JacksonDavid W. Jackson is researching, writing, and publishing books on local history through his imprint The Orderly Pack Rat (orderlypackrat.com).

“I’m very proud and honored to have helped launch GLAMA 10 years ago, especially after spending years before that contemplating and conceptualizing the idea. Then, when Stuart and I were working together on an archival project, we shared our mutual dream for what became GLAMA. The Kansas City LGBTQ+ communities are fortunate to have a regional archival repository where relevant, historical “queer” materials are conserved and made available to the public in a safe and secure manner. Almost every LGBTQ+ person has “stuff” that tells a personal story, documents an initiative, or records the operations of a group or organization.

“Anything goes; just get it to GLAMA, and professional archivists will do the rest! Those items, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could be key to any author, scholar, filmmaker, reporter, student, or anyone wishing to use the materials for a variety of projects.

“Three of the most recent outcomes with connections to GLAMA’s mission that come to mind include UMKC graduate students Kevin Scharlau (who published an award-winning article in the Missouri Historical Review) and doctoral candidate Austin Williams (who produced The Ordinance Project, a film documenting a turning point in Kansas City governance). And local author Patrick Byrne’s book, Double Entendre, about Rae Bourbon, Kansas City’s pre-eminent female impersonator at the famous Jewel Box Lounge. Byrne’s research papers and photographs will one day end up in GLAMA, one of many examples of the endless opportunities to make GLAMA’s collections more robust.

“We are hopeful LGBTQ+ Kansas Citians’ first thought will be to consider donating to GLAMA anytime they are faced with keeping or tossing ‘stuff.’”

Bradley Osborn

Brad has been writing for Camp since 2004. His beat is mostly local features and general LGBT news. Common topics have included youth, faith and community. Although he holds an M.A. in journalism, he primarily considers himself to be a chemist, having studied and worked in biochemistry, quantitative analysis, quality assurance and the production of educational science texts. He's laconic, unintentionally enigmatic and often facetious. He enjoys irony, as well as things – but not animals, apparently – that are simultaneously beautiful and utilitarian. He and his cat, Charlie Parker, reside in downtown Kansas City, Mo. If you have a story idea for Brad, send him a note at [email protected]