June is Pride Month and an opportunity to recognize, celebrate, and support LGBTQ+ communities. This week’s post is another in our “Resource Round-Up” series, which we occassionally publish during important months as a guide to learning more about the older and historic places and spaces in Pennsylvania that reflect that month’s theme. This one highlights just some sources related to LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
Why is June Pride Month?
In the United States, Pride Month falls in June in honor of the Stonewall Uprising, a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ communities across the country in their fight for civil rights. In the early morning hours on June 28, 1969, the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The raid escalated to physical and verbal violence against the patrons and a riot against the police formed. Demonstrations and ongoing conflict with the NYPD continued for six days. This PBS documentary, Stonewall Uprising, is worth watching for more information.
According to the National Park Service’s website for the Stonewall National Monument, which President Obama estalished with a proclamation on June 24, 2016, “Stonewall is regarded by many as the single most important catalyst for the dramatic expansion of the LGBT civil rights movement. The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize and within two years of Stonewall, LGBT rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the U.S.”
LGBTQ+ Pride in Pennsylvania
We have two great blog posts by guest authors that talk about LGBTQ+ activities in Pennsylvania:
- Welcome to LGBT History Month (I know this history month is in October, but there is lots of great stuff in this post)
- Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month with Pennsylvania History
In addition to these posts – which just barely scratch the surface on this topic – these commonwealth, university and non-profit organization programs are great resources.
Pennsylvania Historical Markers
Historical markers are a great source of information about a person, place, thing, or subject. A few important LGBTQ+ events and personalities have historical markers, such as Giovanni’s Room, Barbara Gittings, Dewey’s Sit In, and John E. Fryer, M.D. (1937-2003).
Two new markers related to this topic are expected to be dedicated this fall, one for Gloria Casarez in Philadelphia and one for Shapp Administration LGBTQ Initiatives and Richard Schlegel in Harrisburg. Check out the dedication calendar for more information.
We invite everyone to explore the nearly 2,500 cast aluminum markers online using PA-SHARE – no account necessary! You can easily log in as a guest and find markers through the Search tab. The historical marker database is searchable by keyword, county, or category.
PA State Archives Guides
The PA State Archives has a number of great resources, both online and at their Harrisburg building. A search of their records using their new and improved online catalog or digital collections can lead researchers to interesting places for information.
A quick keyword search revealed items related to this topic in these collections:
- Office of the Governor, Collection RG-010
- Pennsylvania Public Television Network Commission, Collection RG-060
- Pennsylvania State Police, Collection RG-030
- Shapp, Milton J. Papers circa 1971-1979, Collection MG-309
- Thornburgh, Dick Papers 1979-1987, Collection MG-404
I would highly recommend getting in touch with the PA State Archives to learn more about how they can help with LGBTQ+ research in Pennsylvania.
Other Pennsylvania Resources
Outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania network, these are some of the best resources on this topic:
LGBT History Project: The LGBT Center of Central PA and the Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections have partnered to document the stories and history of LGBT life and activism in the greater Central Pennsylvania region.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Pride: LGBT Histories of the Commonwealth has several great articles, an extensive bibliography, and a unit plan for educators.
William Way LGBT Community Center: The John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives is Philadelphia’s most extensive collection of personal papers, organizations records, periodicals, audiovisual material and ephemera documenting the rich history of our LGBTQ community. You can search the digital collections.
Pittsburgh Queer History Project: The PQHP is an ongoing oral history and media preservation initiative. Begun in 2012 as an investigation of after-hours nightlife in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, its collection has revealed new histories of LGBT individuals and a unique community formation within the city’s ethnic and industrial social structures.
These online resources are nationwide in scope and may or may not have information specific to Pennsylvania. They do, however, provide some important context to better understand Pride Month and how the people, places, and events in Pennsylvania fit in the broader story.
- LOC: The Library of Congress has some great material about LGBTQ+ Pride Month at https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/. The resources page alone could keep you busy for days! Their LGBTQ+ Studies: A Resource Guide is the best place to start.
- National Register of Historic Places: Check out the National Register of Historic Places Program: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month website for National Register properties associated with this topic.
- National Park Service: This website has an extensive collection of material related to LGBTQ+ heritage. In addition to learning about places and people, the site links to the 2016 LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study and you might want to start with the fact sheet to get your bearings.