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Smithsonian accepts archival material from Baltimore's LGBT community center

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  • Smithsonian accepts archival material from Baltimore's LGBT community center

    Items will be added to LGBT history collection at National Museum of American
    History in Washington

    By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

    Old photographs, newspapers and other miscellaneous "gay pride ephemera" from
    the last half-century of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history in Baltimore
    will be added on Tuesday to one of the nation's most esteemed museum collections.

    Officials at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will accept the
    archival materials from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community
    Center of Baltimore (GLCCB), and add them to its growing collection of items
    documenting LGBT history.

    The collection is part of the museum's "mission to document the full breadth of the
    American experience," it said in announcing several new additions it will be accepting
    — including the original transgender pride flag and show scripts and other
    correspondence from the creators of the popular and long-running NBC sitcom
    "Will & Grace."

    "The pursuit of civil rights in America is woven throughout our history," said John
    Gray, the museum's director, in a statement. "It is a tale of struggle and
    accomplishment as the nation strives to fulfill its ideals. We are grateful to our
    donors for assisting us to fulfill our mission to help the public understand the past
    in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future."

    Dan McEvily, a spokesman for the GLCCB, said it is "thrilling" to see the
    organization's history become part of the storied collection of the Smithsonian.

    The museum's total collection includes more than 3 million objects from across
    the American experience, including items that explore "the infinite richness and
    complexity of American history," it says. Its LGBT collection dates back to the
    19th Century, and includes materials from the early gay rights movement as well
    as from groups that oppose gay rights — including the controversial Westboro
    Baptist Church.

    The museum is located near the Washington Monument on the National Mall,
    at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue in northwest Washington. Its LGBT
    collection has been displayed to commemorate various occasions, including
    anniversaries of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City against police
    harassment, which are widely considered to be a jumping-off point for broader
    gay rights activism in the country.

    Kelly Neel, the GLCCB's acting executive director, was scheduled to sign a deed
    of gift at a ceremony with other donors on Tuesday. Also in attendance will be
    Monica Helms, the creater of the transgender pride flag; David Kohan and Max
    Mutchnick, the creators of "Will & Grace."

    Additionally, David Huebner and his spouse Duane McWaine will be in attendance.
    Huebner is the former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa and was the
    first openly gay ambassador in the Obama administration. The couple are donating
    their diplomatic passports and other items to the museum's collection.

    The GLCCB first began the process of preserving its archives in 2012, as it prepared
    to move out of its longtime home in Mount Vernon. At the time, its records were in
    disarray in the attic. An archives committee was formed, and the group began
    cataloging items, including back issues of what is now its Gay Life newspaper.

    The GLCCB eventually brokered a deal to store and begin properly itemizing its
    archives at the University of Baltimore's Langsdale Library, with the collection
    focusing on Baltimore-centric items and history.

    The items now going to the Smithsonian are either duplicates of what can be found
    at UB, or are items that aren't specifically relevant to Baltimore but are still historically
    significant within the nation's broader LGBT scope, McEvily said — such as early
    advertising and organizational materials from the National Association of LGBT
    Community Centers.

    Source: ""