Homage to Newsletters

The stapled sheets of paper contained everything from the puzzling to the profound.

“Help us find the ‘cow collar’…  During the Gay Pride Week rally Steve lent us a collar (or whatever it is called) to hold down the papers on the table,” the Association of Suburban People newsletter announced in September 1977.  Anyone with information on the object’s disappearance was urged to call Wes.

Continue reading “Homage to Newsletters”

Origin Stories

The statewide LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group Equality Michigan, also known as EQMI, made an embarrassing gaffe last month when it used the wrong photo to identify organization founder Henry Messer in promoting a key annual fundraiser.  Instead of Messer, the promotion showed his partner of 62 years, Carl House.  EQMI then exacerbated its mistake by again identifying House as Messer at the dinner itself.

Continue reading “Origin Stories”

The Purging of Ann Arbor’s (Queer) Past

I knew criminal court cases could be a gold mine for researching LGBTQ history.  I did not know such records were so vulnerable.

As I recounted in an earlier blog post, my path to queer remembering started in the late 1980s with looking into old gross indecency and sodomy cases at the Genesee County Court House, unkind clerical staff and all.

Continue reading “The Purging of Ann Arbor’s (Queer) Past”

The Q Word

Last month I received some feedback about Michigan LGBTQ Remember that caught me off guard.

The message came from Leonard Graff, who was a key and pioneering activist in the Gay Liberation Movement at Michigan State University in the early 1970s.  Leonard expressed appreciation for the project, then shared his deep dislike for the Q at the end of LGBTQ.

Continue reading “The Q Word”

Obits as Primary Sources

It’s back to school time and I am in teacher mode.

One of the ways I have prodded students over the past several years to understand how historians study the past is to have them analyze primary sources.  Put simply, primary sources are documents of some sort that provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence.  Examples include personal journals, legislative hearings, census records, emails, newsletters, photographs, and oral histories.

Continue reading “Obits as Primary Sources”

Gay Funerals

So far as I can remember, the first gay funeral I ever attended was for Ralph Wilson.

I knew dear Ralph from the University of Michigan-Flint, where he was one of the few semi-out gay students on campus in the early 1990s.  He got a job with the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project in Ferndale after he graduated and was killed in a freeway accident driving home from the Timesquare nightclub.

Continue reading “Gay Funerals”