Our Board of Directors recently voted to join the #opentoall initiative through LexPride. According to their website, “Open To All is a nationwide campaign to build awareness about the importance of nondiscrimination laws—and to defend the principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open To All.” This past spring, we posted our Open to All decals signifying that we do not discriminate and that our buildings are open to all. I am proud that our organization is participating in this program.
Part of our mission at Lexington Historical Society is to “document, preserve, interpret, and present to the public the history of Lexington as a whole.” This means telling the stories all kinds of people who have called Lexington home. I could not help but notice, especially as we hung our #opentoall decals, that our museums and programs do not tell the stories of the many LGBTQ+ people in Lexington today and throughout history. While it might be difficult to learn about LGBTQ+ people in the past, as the written record may not reflect their experiences, I thought that it is certainly possible to learn more about LGBTQ+ people in Lexington’s recent past and to better capture their stories for posterity.
With that in mind, I reached out to Val Overton of LexPride and asked if they might want to partner on a program that features LGBTQ history. Val was on board, and we formed a focus group to put a program together in time for Pride Month.
After a great meeting and dozens of emails, our program, in partnership with LexPride and Greater Boston PFLAG, is happening! Tonight, Thursday, June 20, we will host Dr. Gary Bailey of Simmons College who will discuss the last half century of LGBTQ history since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Following the lecture, there will be a panel discussion featuring LGBTQ Lexingtonians who will share their stories of coming of age in Lexington over the last fifty years.
This is an exciting moment for Lexington Historical Society, as we are exploring a new side of history, one that is not often told. However, we still have a long way to go. Like the fight for equal rights for those who identify as LGBTQ+, our inclusion of their stories in our interpretation and programming is still developing and hopefully improving.
I look forward to our continued partnership with LexPride and PFLAG, and anticipate more insightful programs in the future. We at Lexington Historical Society are continuously working to tell the stories of all of Lexington’s people, and I am proud that we are taking this important step.
The program will take place at the Depot, 13 Depot Square, at 7PM. It is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. For more information please visit www.lexingtonhistory.org/events.
-Erica McAvoy, Executive Director
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.