September 30, 2013: October is LGBT History Month. The St. Louis LGBT History Project is proud to honor and recognize Rodney Wilson as the founder of the now annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month hosted nationwide every October. Rodney spearheaded the creation of the event in 1994 when he was a teacher at Mehlville High School. October was chosen by Wilson as the month for the celebration because National Coming Out Day already was established as a widely known event, on October 11, and October commemorated the first march on Washington by LGBT people in 1979.
LGBT History Month is intended to encourage honesty and openness about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. So, Happy LGBT History Month. Watch for important news from the Project throughout the month as we celebrate our historic past and vibrant future.
Rodney Wilson is pictured with a poster created by one of his students in 1994 during the first history month celebration in St. Louis. He has donated the poster to the Project.
September 9, 2013: Over the summer, the Project sat down with Lee Maynard (Gypsy Lee) who was visiting St. Louis to attend 2013 Pride and spend some time with family and friends. During his trip, the Project completed an oral history with Lee who shared recollections of his life in St. Louis in the 1970s. He performed as "Gypsy Lee" and was an active member of the LGBT community, participating in local events such as the Mandrake Ball.
In addition to the oral history, Lee has donated several important artifacts to the Project, including one of his Cher inspired indian headdresses, along with artwork, and rare photographs from his performing days.
The Project looks forward to continued discussions with Lee about additional oral history interviews and thanks him for these important donations for our archives.
Today Lee lives in Connecticut and is a talented artist. Check our facebook page for a gallery of pictures.
August 20, 2013: Last week, the Project received a rare photograph taken by noted photographer Wilbur Wegener at St. Louis' first Pride event in 1980. Here it is. The image is of Pat Murrell and she is holding a balloon. Not only is the image great, but so is the story of the balloon. Janet Utley was in charge of procuring the balloons and she tells a great story about going to a local carnival supply company and that at first they were hesitant to print balloons with a gay message, saying they "could not do such a thing," and Janet simply said," well, sure you can." Special thanks to Jim Andris for hosting an event at his house last week where Pat and Janet were joined by Judith Hunter and Jim Pfaff.
These women were plugged in to the greater women's community that was associated with the activism surrounding the 1977 Anita Bryant fear campaign and before, and right on up to the 1980 Pride event and after. Their memories are invaluable. At Jim's house Jim Pfaff showed his color slides from the 1980 and 1981 St. Louis Pride events. The ladies did a great job of helping identify many people in the photos. The Project will be partnering with Jim Pfaff to showcase his rare images. More news on that to come. For now enjoy this great historic memory from 1980. Photo by Wilbur Wegener, April 1980. Donor Pat Murrell.
July 1, 2013: The Project was proud to provide an educational display at this year's historic 2013 St. Louis Pride - held in downtown St. Louis for the very first time. This year's exhibit featured some never seen before artifacts - including a black gown once worn by a popular 1970's St. Louis area female impersonator (Lady Charles/Charlie Davis). Thanks to the several hundred people who stopped by the exhibit. Many of you had new stories to tell and some artifacts to donate. The Project was also honored by Pride St. Louis, Inc., this year with the Jim Hoefer award. Thanks to Pride St. Louis, Inc., and everyone else who has been so support of the Project. Keep those historic stories and treasures coming our way.