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LGBT history exhibition to tour eastern, midwest, and southern states

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

February 7, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- The San Francisco Public Library is taking one its most popular exhibitions to the road.

Out at the Library, an archived collection of gay history by the library's James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center, has been packaged for a tour of the country's eastern, Midwest and southern regions.

"This is very exciting," said the exhibit's curator, Barbara Levine. "There aren't many exhibits like this in the country. This is very important for people to see.''

The exhibit coincides with the Hormel Center's tenth anniversary, and was funded entirely by $250,000 in donations. San Francisco Library Chief
Curator Catherine King said the exhibit was the most successful of the library's many projects in fundraising and public reaction.

"Hopefully, this experience could lead to more exhibits traveling in the future," said King. "We're hoping more people will become aware of our
wonderful collections.''

While the exhibit is bound to receive a warm welcome when it begins its journey at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York City, its reception in cities like Atlanta and Dallas could be chillier.

But Levine doesn't expect too much controversy to brew.

"Hopefully there will be some healthy dialogue," said Levine.

"Controversy? We can't really know until we get there.''

While the exhibit is national in scope, archivists with the Hormel Center have focused on northern California artifacts like an appointment book and hand-edited draft of a speech by Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor.

The original artifacts won't be making the cross-country trip.

Archivists compiled panels with photographs and accompanying histories that could be easily packed and shipped. The original materials will stay with the Hormel Center where the general public can access its contents with the help of an archivist.

Other highlights include leather boots worn by Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the U.S. Army's first female surgeon, who also happened to be a cross dresser. Volume six of Der Eigene, an early 20th century periodical advocating sexual relationships between men and boys has also been included.

The exhibit also includes original pulp paperbacks like "Warped Desire," "Odd Girl Out" and "The Gay Year," along with early correspondence between prominent gay authors.

Out at the Library is scheduled to travel until June 2007, and curators have not decided if the exhibit will have a permanent home in San Francisco.

Other tour stops include Minneapolis, Swarthmore, Pa., and Provincetown, Mass., where the exhibition will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision to overrule a law banning gay marriage.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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