The Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco voted on the evening of Tuesday, January 31, to approve a groundbreaking resolution calling on municipal authorities, philanthropists and business leaders to support the GLBT Historical Society’s efforts to develop a new LGBTQ museum and public history center in the city. Supervisor Jeff Sheehy introduced the resolution, which was cosponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim. The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
“Our communities have existed since time immemorial, yet our histories continually get erased,” said Supervisor Sheehy. “As recently as 1933 in what had been fabulously queer Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research along with the Museum of Sex were destroyed by the Nazis — and people from our communities were taken to concentration camps. The last 10 days have reminded me of those times. Asserting our right to our history is not only about remembering our past, but is also a powerful act of resistance.”
Terry Beswick, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, noted that “knowledge of the past is one of the cornerstones for building equality and respect for LGBTQ people and those who care about us. We envision the new museum as a source of learning and inspiration for everyone who cherishes social justice.”
“We are grateful to the Board of Supervisors for recognizing the importance of this vision and embracing our community’s long-held dream of creating a world-class museum of LGBTQ history and culture,” Beswick added.
Founded in 1985, the GLBT Historical Society preserves one of the largest LGBTQ archives in the United States and has maintained a small museum in San Francisco’s Castro District since 2011. It recently launched a campaign dubbed Vision2020 that aims to create the New Museum of LGBTQ History and Culture, a facility that will bring together the society’s galleries, programs and archives in a single high-visibility structure.
According to the GLBT Historical Society, only one other municipality in the world is known to have passed a resolution to support the establishment of an LGBTQ public history institution. In December 2014, the City Council of Paris voted to call on the mayor and other city officials to assist the creation of an LGBTQ community archives. The society adds that the only full-scale independent LGBTQ history museum and archives currently operating is the Schwules Museum, established in 1985 in Berlin.