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LGBTQ History

The story behind the photograph: Gay Dads Kissing, 1983

For Michael and Robert, the quick peck before a walk around the lake with Michael’s son was an ordinary moment. It was also a history-making photograph.

A place at the park: LGBTQ+ inclusion and skateboarding

Skateboarding is known for its laid back vibe of acceptance and inclusion but this was not always the case for LGBTQ+ skaters. There were violent homophobic incidents in the early 1980s and 1990s. Recently, skate has made great strides in its acceptance of LGBTQ+ skaters.

The most radical thing about Stonewall wasn’t the uprising

The Stonewall Uprising began June 28, 1969, in response to a police raid at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, and has since been commemorated around the world with pride parades and other events. Curator Katherine Ott reflects on the significance of the uprising.

Reading the rainbow: The origins of the pride symbol

The rainbow was a symbol in LGBTQ communities long before the rainbow flag.

Illegal to be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall

In June 1969, LGBTQ+ community members resisted a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in lower Manhattan. The museum will mark this 50th anniversary with a display featuring objects from its collections that put the history of that memorable event within a larger and longer experience of being gay.

See the objects featured in the display on the companion website.

About the Artifact Walls

The history of getting the gay out

It is dangerous to be different. The museum recently collected materials to document gay-conversion therapy—and these objects allow curators like myself to explore how real people experience these risks.

Smithsonian Receives Matthew Shepard Collection

The museum will receive a donation of papers and personal objects from the parents of Matthew Shepard, a young, gay college student who died of severe injuries following a vicious attack in 1998 when he was a student at the University of Wyoming.

Matt Shepard objects in our collection remind us of the familiarity of an LGBTQ icon

In October 1998, a college student named Matt Shepard was brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, by two young men. Matt was slight of build, 5'2", and gay. The two men who murdered him pretended to be gay in order to rob him. His killing made headlines around the world and resulted in an outpouring of grief and anger that people channeled into poetry, songs and musical compositions, movies, a charity foundation, a national Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and at least two plays, The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.

Queer coins: LGBTQ rulers through history

With Pride Month celebrations recognizing LGBTQ history and culture throughout the country this June, what better way to highlight the occasion than by studying historical LGBTQ rulers with coins?