We’re so excited about the GLBT Historical Society’s upcoming annual gala, “Reunion: Chosen Family.” Our hostess Juanita MORE! is planning a spectacular evening of great food, wine, celebrity guests and entertainment. Our silent auction will offer exceptional lots including historic LGBTQ photographs and posters, travel packages and fine dining. Atop San Francisco’s newest iconic skyscraper, the Salesforce Tower, the venue offers breathtaking, panoramic views of our city.
In addition to the glitz, our gala is really an opportunity to connect with our supporters, and show our deep gratitude to our staff, board and volunteers. It’s a time to reflect on how far we’ve come, and most importantly, a chance to envision our plans for the future.
Celebrating a Milestone
This year we’re celebrating a milestone. I’m thrilled to report that we’ve completed an initial set of feasibility studies that lay out a detailed business plan for a new, full-scale LGBTQ Museum and Research Center in San Francisco. As part of the gala program, we’ll give you a preview of the plans. Our opportunity now is to present these detailed plans to the key stakeholders who will make the project possible: local and state elected officials, corporate and foundation partners, and individual supporters.
Why do we need a full-scale museum of LGBTQ history? The answer can be found in our eight-year-old Castro museum. By industry standards, it has been wildly successful, drawing a remarkable 26,000 visitors in 2018, three-quarters of whom came from outside California. But our museum has reached the limit of its visitor and display capacity, even as the demand for knowledge about queer history and the society’s unparalleled collections continues to grow. What better place to establish a full-scale museum than in San Francisco?
A Cultural Crown Jewel
Young LGBTQ people continue to struggle with acceptance and are often disconnected or alienated from their birth families. It’s critical to provide them with a sense of the proud LGBTQ heritage of their diverse chosen families. Our queer elders often feel that their stories are at risk of being forgotten, and that no one will learn from their lived experiences. A new LGBTQ history museum and research center will enrich the lives of young queer people and forge intergenerational connections. It will be a crown jewel in San Francisco’s robust array of cultural institutions. Our world faces enormous challenges in the current political environment: racial and economic injustice, climate change, voter suppression and hostility to immigrants, to name but a few. LGBTQ people are profoundly connected to these struggles for social justice, which is one of the major reasons why preserving and sharing queer history is our vital and urgent mission.
Through engagement with our history, including the successes and failures of our movement, we can inspire effective leadership to take on today’s most pressing social and political issues. The GLBT Historical Society’s museum and archives illuminate these connections for people from all around the world every single day. This is what we are celebrating this year at “Reunion: Chosen Family.” I hope you will join us at the gala and on our ongoing journey.
Terry Beswick is executive director of the GLBT Historical Society.