This week I’ll be speaking at the Revitalize Washington conference in Wenatchee. This event is the annual convening of historic preservationists and Main Street America workers from across the state. I’ll be appearing on a panel called “Getting Started with LGBTQ Historic Preservation.”
I’ll be providing an introduction to the preservation of sites significant to LGBTQ history using formal channels, such as National Register nominations. I’ll also be touching on some of the issues preservationists face when trying to document LGBTQ communities. I’ll be joined by two co-panelists. Manish Chalana, from the University Washington, will discuss queer neighborhoods and some alternatives to formal historic designation. And Kolby LaBree, owner of Good Time Girls Bellinghistory Tours, will offer some insights on the uses of history tours for preserving LGBTQ community memories.
I speak pretty regularly on LGBTQ historic preservation issues, drawing on my experiences working in this area. I am the lead author on the Maryland LGBTQ Historic Context Study; have completed a number of National Register projects related to LGBTQ history (such as the Alfred Kinsey House in Indiana and the Monumental Elks’ Lodge #3 in Baltimore); and am currently working on three National Historic Landmark nominations for sites significant to both LGBTQ and women’s history. I find that speaking publicly about the particular issues involved with preserving underrepresented communities allows me to get regular feedback as my thinking on the topic evolves and expands.
For those just getting started in this work, I’d recommend starting with the National Historic Landmark Theme Study, LGBTQ America, which is available for free online. If you’re wondering what type of sites might best represent LGBTQ history, I wrote an article about this, entitled “Beyond the Bar” for the LGBTQ issue of the journal Change over Time. You can also click on the button below to see a list I’ve compiled of additional resources.