Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And speaking of preservation ...

It has been almost exactly 9 months since the District of Columbia's Historic Preservation Review Board declared the home and office of Dr. Frank Kameny a historic landmark in the District. It is still only a local landmark.

Rainbow History had expected, hoped, that the next step would be taken by the Historic Preservation Office: nominating the site for the National Park Service's Register of Historic Sites.

Hasn't happened. We're still hoping. Unfortunately this isn't something Rainbow History itself can do. The nomination has to be made by the state/District historic preservation officer to NPS.

Losing the Blade, Saving Our History

November 16th, 2009 the sun set on the Washington Blade, Washington DC's venerable newspaper of record for the queer community. Forty years and 41 days since Nancy Tucker and Art Stone launched the periodical on October 5, 1969, Window Media's misadventures sank the paper. The venerable local and national institution is lost. But the good news is that its staff are working to recreate again under another name in an employee-owned venture.

But that won't save our history!

Now that the entire Window Media organization is in receivership and owned largely by the Small Business Administration, the Blade's collection of forty years of photos (beginning with Nancy Tuckers' photos) is in jeopardy and may be lost to the community. Forty years of the company's records, topical files, and journalists' files are in equally serious jeopardy.

Historic preservation is about preserving memories. Certainly preserving the documentary and photographic archives is as, if not more important, than preserving sites in our history.

What will our queer community - local and national - do to ensure that those archives are not lost, dispersed, or junked by the Small Business Administration?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Time

The plaque stands across the street from the Stonewall Inn just behind Segal's unthreatening same-sex statues.

Ten years ago a group of historians, preservationists, and archivists nominated New York's Stonewall Inn as a historic site. The nomination was taken up enthusiastically by New York's State Historic Preservation Office which landmarked the site and then pushed the nomination to the National Park Service where in 2000 the Stonewall Inn joined the other 2000 plus National Historic Landmarks. It is still the only queer site on the national list.

It's time the National Park Service recognized this queer civil rights struggle by adding sites important to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

It's time.