New group wants to commemorate Kansas City’s LGBT history

Courtesy GLAMA.

A 1966 issue of the Phoenix. Courtesy GLAMA.

The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-American (GLAMA) wants to highlight Kansas City’s role in the struggle for equality for LGBT people.

The archive at UMKC has formed a committee called LGBT-KC to recognize and commemorate Kansas City’s role in the early LGBT liberation movement and highlight the history and evolution of Kansas City’s LGBT community.

Here’s more from UMKC:

The famous 1969 “Stonewall Riots” are often cited as the spark igniting modern gay rights movements in the United States. LGBT-KC notes, however, that the first national gathering of homosexual rights activists occurred three years prior in Kansas City, Missouri. Leaders of the then-new North American Conference of Homophile Organizations gathered in February 1966 at the State Hotel, formerly located on the northeast corner of Wyandotte at 12th Street.

That meeting was attended by 40 lesbian and gay rights activists from 15 advocacy groups located in major cities on the East and West coasts and Chicago. Immediately following this first-of-its-kind conference, local Kansas City leaders founded “The Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom.” They opened Phoenix House as an LGBT community center, and began publication of The Phoenix: Homophile Voice of Kansas City, a publication distributed across the nation. Thus the gay rights movement in Kansas City was born.

The timing couldn’t be better. “Kansas City is getting a lot of national attention right now, and our elected officials have made it clear they support the LGBT community,” said Stuart Hinds, co-founder and curator of the GLAMA at UMKC. “We’re eager to advance awareness of the modern struggle for equality for LGBT people, as well as to draw attention to how progressive Kansas City has sometimes been.”

LGBT-KC is meeting regularly. Committee members include Jon Barnett, Ross Freese, David Jackson, Kay Madden and Brad Wolf.  Individuals and groups willing to assist and/or support LGBT-KC, or to donate historical materials to GLAMA, may contact Hinds at UMKC.

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