The Stonewall National Education Program is celebrating it’s tenth year bringing LGBTQ+ history to United States communities.
Robert Kesten, executive director of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, recently told Tracy E. Gilchrist of Advocate Today how queer organizations within the country continue to fight back as LGBTQ+ rights remain under attack.
“I think that it’s important to recognize that what we do is we not only collect the history and the culture, but we present it,” he says.
The main mission of SNEP is to spread LGBTQ+ history, which is often left out of state teachings and textbooks. Kesten says that the program “looks at what makes it safe for an LGBTQ+ child to be in school.”
“One of the things that we have rightfully discovered is that learning history, real history, makes a huge difference,” Kesten explains. “Because when you see the interplay between people from our community in the history of the United States, in the history of the world, it becomes so clear how integrated we all are. When you not understand that, when you learn that in school, when it’s not limited and prohibited, you start to see that people want the same things.”
“That people have the same goals, that there really is very little difference between a boy who likes boys and a boy who likes girls, or a girl who likes girls, and a girl who likes boys or people who like both or people who are not sure,” he continues. “The differences are minor compared to the things that we share in common and the shared history that we have when we’re willing to learn history in its totality and not just biography of a select few.”
The Stonewall National Museums Archive is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a gala in Fort Lauderdale on February 25. They also have a march planned in Tallahassee on January 21, to protest Governor Ron DeSantis’ re-inauguration.
“Tallahassee has made itself ground zero in terms of fighting for LGBTQ rights. And there will be people going there,” Kesten explains, adding, “Our focus is making sure that the history is recorded, that it is documented, that it is saved, that it is preserved, and that it is shared by as many people as humanly possible. So that total history is learned and known. And this is the battle right now on what human rights looks like.”
For more interviews like these, watch Advocate Today on The Advocate Channel.