By Terry Beswick

Securing our past while planning the future

The GLBT Historical Society achieved a major goal this month with the recent move of our treasured archives to a new and expanded space in the mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco.

So many people contributed time, energy and resources to make this move possible. In particular, I want to give a big shout-out to a few unsung heroes who made it possible: outgoing board member and archives working group chair Al Bersch, board co-chair Brian Turner, managing archivist Joanna Black, and move manager Ramon Silvestre. We deeply appreciate their dedication to the cause of protecting LGBTQ history.

The move to the new space at 989 Market Street also was made possible by contributions from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Program of the Northern California Community Loan Fund, the GLBT Historical Society Board of Directors, the Excelerate Foundation, the Horizons Foundation, and — most importantly — 202 individual contributors to our Indiegogo campaign.

Thank you, all! Your support has ushered in a new era for the GLBT Historical Society. We’re especially delighted that we finally have room to grow — and we’re committed to using this opportunity to strengthen the diversity of our collections, especially by expanding our documentation of the lives of people of color, women, and other groups underrepresented in the archives.

To celebrate, we want to invite all our members and all the donors to our Indiegogo campaign to a special hard-hat preview of the new archives on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Managing archivist Joanna Black will be leading tours at the start of each hour. If you’re a member or a donor, please reserve a place (access code: GLBTHistory).

If you can’t make it to the preview, don’t worry. We’ll soon be settled in to the new archives space. The reading room will be open by appointment to researchers and other visitors in three or four weeks.

Executive Director Terry Beswick

Watch your e-mail for another special announcement later this month. We plan to share our vision for an exciting new long-term project that will fully showcase LGBTQ history and culture in San Francisco for generations to come. As with the archives move, your support will be one of the keys to its success.

Happy Pride, everyone!

The Nance with special pre-show queer history talk

Ray Bourbon at Taits (1933)

Saturday, October 24, from 7 to 10 p.m.
New Conservatory Theatre Center
25 Van Ness Avenue

Direct from Broadway, The Nance (8 p.m.) recreates the naughty, raucous world of burlesque’s heyday and tells the backstage story of headliner Chauncey Miles, who plays “the nance,” a flamboyantly effeminate stock character—usually played by a straight man. At a time when it was easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay, Chauncey’s uproarious antics on the stage stand out in marked contrast to his offstage life. By Douglas Carter Beane. Directed by Dennis Lickteig.

Special Pre-Show History Talk: “A Real Life Nance: Rae Bourbon”

Ray Bourbon (1930s)

Rae (aka Ray) Bourbon (c. 1892-1971) performed in and out of drag as a pansy comic in vaudeville, a bawdy nance in burlesque, and a female impersonator in bars and on stages from the 1920s through the 1960s. At 7 p.m., Professor Don Romesburg will discuss Bourbon’s early career in the context of the so-called “pansy craze,” the popularity of nance roles, and the constant challenge of policing and raids for queer performers of the era.

GLBT Historical Society members receive a special premium for the entire run of the show, running Wednesday-Sunday through November 1. Use the discount code “GLBTMuseum” for a savings of 25% . Purchase tickets at or by calling the box office at 415-861-8972.

Here’s Ray Bourbon performing “Give, Sister, Give” from his 1945 album Hilarity From Hollywood. Listen closely for a nod to San Francisco’s Embarcadero, a notorious cruising area for servicemen during World War II.