November 15th, 2008

Paul Neyron rose 2

tour of gay Philadelphia

"We're four hours late for our rights." S.

H. and I went to Philadelphia today.  Mostly we wanted to go to the William Way Center and find out more about the archives they have relating to what was then called the Gay and Lesbian Student Union of [local university I'm an alumna of].  H. is the historian of the organization (which has added many letters to its acronym since then).  She's fascinated by the archives of the organization, and has done a lot with scanning the documents to the office computer.  It was her idea to make an online scrapbook with the historical materials.  I'm still just amazed at the courage of the students who started the organization in 1975.  At the time, it was still illegal for them to have sex -- same-sex relations -- in Pennsylvania, and would be until 1980.  We've got to talk to some of the alums at some point.  As well as the professor who teaches a gay history class there.  (Edited to add: E-mailed Dr. H., who was very enthusiastic and donated about twenty books to us, as well as suggesting some research tips, such as looking in the yearbook for the organization's name and the students who were members.  I do realize that the members listed would be only a tiny fraction of the GLBT students who have attended [local university].)  We found out that we can make an appointment to see the William Way Center's archives on Wednesdays, so we'll do another field trip soon.  There's a library there, too.  I got out the books in the Beebo Brinker series I hadn't read yet.  When Victor Banis came to [local university], he recommended that we get Ann Bannon to come speak sometime.  I have quite an appreciation of some of the speakers we've had at [local university].  Barbara Gittings came there at least twice -- she lived maybe an hour away.  The program I saw was when she, her partner Kay Tobin Lahusen, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz came to talk about the history of the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement.  I also saw a talk by Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church.  Talk about the history these people have created.

We also stopped at Giovanni's Room while we were in the neighborhood.  I had my usual shopping fun, picking up fiction and non-fiction.  I got a copy of Gay LA because a certain author I'm a squeeing fangirl of said it was very good.  One of my personal favorite gay history books is Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940.  Actually, it's just a favorite history book of mine generally.  H. had a great time wandering around, looking at all the rooms of books.  I showed her the gay mystery shelves, and the gay science fiction/fantasy shelf.  Then we meandered through the non-fiction upstairs.

After our visits to Giovanni's Room and the William Way Center, we headed over to the gay marriage protests at City Hall.  H. was wearing her "Gay? Fine by Me" T-shirt and rainbow stockings this whole time.  I neglected to put on any rainbow accessories.  H. got right into the chanting and waving, even borrowing someone's sign for a while.  On our way back through the City Hall complex to Market Street, we ran into other students from [local university], M., S., and a couple of women I didn't know.  M., who I've quoted before, indicated that it was S. and another woman's fault they were so late.  M. was suitably accessorized with the rainbow peace symbol he always wears.  I enjoy talking to him.  He's usually good for a trenchant observation or two.  I think it's been a good experience for me to get out and meet these gay, lesbian, bi and ally students.  They have so much energy and enthusiasm.  And they're so brave.