Going Out and Making Home.

Where do people go to hook up, to find romance, especially in times and places inhospitable to one’s sexual inclinations? Sexual and gender minorities have taken many avenues to find and create safe spaces. From baths, bars, and beach towns to private music festivals, Disneyland, and their own homes, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people have found places to find each other, play, and create their own families.

Press release drafted by Susie Bright for a demonstration against Anita Bryant’s effort to stir up fear in California that lesbian and gay teachers could make children gay and subvert the American family. Susie Bright’s marginalia include “WE ARE YOUR CHILDREN.” [ca. 1978]

Christmas card from Frank Olson and Don Morrison, a couple for over 40 years and 2010 inductees to the Leather Hall of Fame. During the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City, the police kept closing gay bars, and Frank kept finding new places for them to open.

As more lesbian and gay couples were having children in their families, they looked to create legal protections, understanding, and acceptance in their neighborhoods, local schools, and places they visited. More publications reflect these families.

This issue of the magazine Alternative Family covers the special week welcoming families with children to Provincetown, a tradition begun in 1995.
One of the earliest books depicting a child in a lesbian feminist household is the 1983 Lots of Mommies by Jane Severance. Here, Emily lives in a communal household where she has four (two Caucasian, one African American, one Asian) mommies. Our collection of children’s books includes Carly: She’s Still my Daddy by Mary Boenke and Dolores Dudley (2004), possibly the first book for children that deals with a parent who is transitioning from one gender to the other.

Places gay men found each other.

These matchbook covers, a card for recording tricks (casual sexual partners), and a bathhouse ad come from Larry Bragg’s collection of over 300 keepsakes from gay bars, discos, private clubs, restaurants, and bathhouses from the early 1970s and 1980s.

Two men at a Turkish public bath. Postcard, ca. 1933.

Two female couples out dancing, three men looking good leaning against the bar, and a postcard from a bar in the longtime gay-friendly enclave of Provincetown, MA. [ca. 1950-1955]

For more than a fun night out, where do you go for a queer-friendly vacation? Provincetown, MA, Fire Island, NY, Rehoboth Beach, DE, and Key West, FL are among the cities and beaches that have attracted tourists looking for a gay-friendly environment back to the 1940s, maybe earlier.

Another option: women’s music festivals. In 1973, Sacramento State University held the first one in the U.S., and the idea became popular. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival started in 1976 and became the largest such event. It continues today and has been attractive as a safe and supportive place for lesbians to vacation, though not for transgender women whom are still officially excluded. Shown here is a map of a West Coast Women’s Music and Cultural Festival from 1981.
And Disney? Yes, here’s the ticket that let James P. Kelly ’68 into a gay-themed event held at Disneyland on May 25, 1978.
Before lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, and transgender people grow up and create their own homes, they experience their family of origin and adults who may or may not be ready to understand them. Here is the Gaver family in about 1954 with their baby Chasen who would grow up to be a gay performance artist.
Fun Home! playbill for the 2013 premiere of Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s adaption of Alison Bechdel’s memoir – a musical about a lesbian cartoonist growing up with a closeted gay father.

In homes and families they created.

Here are photographs of lesbians and gay men in their homes, a couple relaxing with a dog on the porch of the Ithaca area gay commune Lavender Hill, and two men in bed.
Here is a photo of members of an earlier commune in which Lavender Hill member Yvonne Fisher lived. And the Valentine shows the baby of one Lavender Hill member with another member, Lazar, who was suffering from AIDS. Sometimes faced with rejection from families or discrimination in the world, LGBT people have created other ways to make homes and family.

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