Helping with the LGBT Historic Sites Project’s for my summer internship has so far been an unparalleled and personally gratifying experience for me. It has allowed me to explore a path that employs preservation, social justice and architecture. The LGBT Historic Sites Project is unique in that it allows these fields to overlap in extremely meaningful ways.
The fight and history of the LGBT community in New York is an inspiring story of hope and progress. This story is protected and reinforced by ensuring that this narrative is anchored in the real through these historic sites and that the public has access to it through the soon to be released online map. Seeing where this fight happened roots the stories of LGBT people, their communities and allies to a physical place. I am witnessing how these places’ material fabric acts has the potential to act as a catalyst of hope for those discouraged, respect for those learning, inspiration to those who continue to fight, and community space for the support of the LGBT community.
So far my internship tasks have included compiling a database for significant sites found in early guidebooks, various archives- such as The LGBT Community Center Archives and the Lesbian Herstory Archives- and finding out whether old sites are extant and promising candidates for the online map. I have been collecting information and images on specific sites and organizations. I have also been able to contribute to the web design and map-making process, and have begun photographing sites and events for the project. My first week with the project included placing rainbow flags on deceased LGBT people’s graves in Woodlawn and Greenwood Cemeteries to honor deceased LGBT people buried there. This was a wonderful introduction to what was to become a very rewarding summer.
I am so excited to continue to spend my summer uncovering these hidden and underappreciated histories. It is so rewarding to know that in helping spread awareness of these sites that link us to the past, I am able to contribute a even small part to securing a foothold in the future of LGBT rights.