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Department of Archives: GLAD Papers Go To Yale, Mitch McConnell Comes Out

November 29, 2010, 7:48 pm

Ssssh!  Don’t let John Boehner know!

That’s Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, queer history fans.  And Mitch McConnell didn’t really come out, but doesn’t the action figure at right look a lot like Mitch McConnell in a dress?  And wouldn’t it be cool if he did come out, and then helped to get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

OK, dream on.  And when I dream, I dream of archives. In case you don’t know why the GLAD archive is important, read on from this press release received on the Radical desk top today:

GLAD is the New England litigation organization whose precedent-setting legal victories include bringing marriage equality to Massachusetts in 2004 and Connecticut in 2008.

Covering all the major social changes and legal developments in contemporary LGBT history – from the HIV epidemic to marriage equality, from transgender rights to the “gayby boom,” GLAD’s records include correspondence, legal documents, research materials, photographs, meeting minutes, reports, publications, press releases, and financial records. The materials reveal the fascinating “backstory” to many of GLAD’s groundbreaking lawsuits – including early litigation that secured the right of a gay Rhode Island high school student to bring his boyfriend to the prom, the Supreme Court victory holding that people with HIV are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit that led to Vermont’s historic civil union law, and the marriage equality wins in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The materials will be available in Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Memorial Library in New Haven.  The Yale University Library has one of the country’s most important research collections in LGBT history and the history of sexuality, including the records of Love Makes A Family; nineteenth-century diaries documenting same-sex intimacy; the papers of Harvey Fierstein, Gertrude Stein, Glenway Westcott, Larry Kramer, David Mixner, and numerous other lesbian and gay writers, artists, and activists; and one of the largest collections in the world of homosexual periodicals published before the gay liberation era of the 1970s.

“As an organization that has brought about significant shifts in the way LGBT people are treated under the law, by the government and by society as a whole, GLAD’s records will be an invaluable source for scholars, historians, civil rights advocates and students,” said Christine Weideman, Sterling Memorial Library’s Director of Manuscripts and Archives. “We’re grateful to be entrusted with preserving this vital part of history.”

“GLAD was founded in response to a series of anti-gay government actions in Boston in 1977-1978, including a police sting operation at the Boston Public Library.  That our records will now be archived at Yale’s world-renowned research library is a marker of how far the LGBT community has progressed over the last three decades,” said Lee Swislow, GLAD’s Executive Director. “We are honored to have played a part in that progress just as we are honored that Yale will ensure that the record of our work is preserved for the benefit of future generations.”

“These papers will be of immense value to historians and other scholars,” said George Chauncey, Professor of History and co-director of the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities. “GLAD’s litigation has played a leading role in mitigating the widespread discrimination faced by LGBT people, and their remarkable records will give scholars and the public a much better understanding of both the extent of that discrimination and the legal and political strategies that have challenged it.”

Records designated by GLAD as open to research will be available in early 2011.

I can just hear your mother now.  “First I had to stop using the word ‘gay,’ and now I have to stop…..”

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