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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 14, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 42
UW debuts LGBTQ Activism in Seattle History Project
Section One
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UW debuts LGBTQ Activism in Seattle History Project

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The University of Washington debuted a new project - the LGBTQ Activism in Seattle History Project - with a public launch on October 10.

Conceived as part of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, which began in 2005, the new piece was compiled by Kevin McKenna, a doctoral student in history, with assistance from another doctoral student, Michael Aguirre.

According to history professor James Gregory, McKenna began the project three years ago when he saw 'an opportunity to fill in the LGBTQ history' that was missing from the Civil Rights and Labor History Project. Gregory is also director of the project.

Like the overall Civil Rights and Labor project, the LGBTQ Activism project combines narrative history, photos, oral histories, timelines, and a catalog of LGBTQ activists and their organizations. It is accessible online at http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/lgbtq_intro.htm.

'It is an exciting set of resources that show for the first time the generations of activism that changed rights and attitudes in Seattle and made it possible for the city to claim, justifiably, to have produced sequences of pioneering legislation, including one of the nation's first nondiscrimination laws,' Gregory said.

The timeline of activism runs from the mid-nineteenth century to Seattle's 2013 election of its first openly Gay mayor, Ed Murray.

The list of sixty-some LGBTQ organizations 'says a lot,' McKenna said in his introductory talk at the October 10 event. 'It's a testament to the commitment of all the activists included in the project.'

McKenna added that his new project 'is by no means a comprehensive history of LGBTQ activism in Seattle, but with time it can be,' if activists not yet included in the video interviews come forward to share their stories.

'Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people have been visible and politically active in Seattle for generations. Their activism has yielded pioneering civil rights victories,' McKenna says on the website.

As a result of local activism, McKenna points out, the Seattle City Council was 'quicker than most municipal governments in acknowledging and passing protections for the gay community on the heels of gay liberation,' adopting an ordinance against employment discrimination in 1973 and a housing nondiscrimination ordinance in 1975.

But serious issues still face Seattle and King County's LGBTQ communities, McKenna adds.

'Even in King County, queer youth continue to face disproportionate rates of homelessness, mental health issues, and domestic violence, and trans people are far more likely to live in poverty than cisgendered people,' he says.

The October 10 project launch was attended by a number of veteran activists, including Marsha Botzer, Phil Bereano, and Roger Winters - whose interviews are included on the project's website - and SGN publisher George Bakan.

Alice Crowe, head of the UW Queer Student Commission, organized the launch event.

The LGBTQ project was funded by grants from the History Department Digital History Fellows program and the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest. It was also supported in part by 4Culture, a public development authority funded by the King County Lodging Tax.

The Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project and the UW Libraries shared parts of their collections with the project.

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