In 2016 Kansas City installed a marker that celebrated its role as host to the first meeting of the National Planning Conference of Homophile Organizations in 1966. The marker was the first to commemorate this historic gathering of gay rights activists as well as the first to recognize Missouri’s LGBTQ history. This article charts the effort to install Kansas City’s marker as a case study of the issues involved in documenting LGBTQ history. What began as a community collecting initiative quickly evolved into an effort that included students, city officials, and a federal heritage area. The authors—a founder of the community collection initiative, a public history educator, and a public history student—demonstrate how those involved attempted to navigate questions of ownership and shared authority. Ultimately, the authors ask public historians to see themselves as potential allies to, rather than authorities of, the communities with which they work.
Over the Rainbow: Public History as Allyship in Documenting Kansas City’s LGBTQ Past
Christopher D. Cantwell is an assistant professor of digital and public history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he is also an affiliate faculty member of the religious studies program. Before joining UWM, he was the founding director of the Public History Emphasis at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Stuart Hinds is a co-founder and curator of the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. His book, Cowtown Queers: a History of Gay and Lesbian Kansas City, is forthcoming from University Press of Kansas.
Christopher D. Cantwell, Stuart Hinds, Kathryn B. Carpenter; Over the Rainbow: Public History as Allyship in Documenting Kansas City’s LGBTQ Past. The Public Historian 1 May 2019; 41 (2): 245–268. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2019.41.2.245
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