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LGBTQ Museum Raising The Bars

LGBTQ Museum Raising The Bars
LGBTQ Museum Raising The Bars
Written by gaytourism

The ‘Raising The Bars’ initiative, a collaboration between the Stonewall National Museum Archives & Library and GayBarchives, commenced in October 2023. Its primary objective is to enhance the recognition and significance of LGBTQ bars throughout history. Despite only a short period of time since its introduction, the program has already made significant progress towards its goals.

The annual gala of SNMAL, called Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes, will showcase an extraordinary video slideshow containing over 2500 gay bar logos. This event will take place on February 24 in Wilton Manors, Florida. According to Robert Kesten, the executive director of Stonewall National Museum, Archives & Library, this video is a significant recognition of the historic safe spaces that have played a central role in the social, political, and cultural lives of generations of gay men and lesbians.

GayBarchives founder Art Smith, a driving force behind Raising The Bars, has spent thousands of hours cataloging and digitally reconstructing these logos as part of this project. Many of the elusive images existed only in time-worn photos and poorly preserved clippings from gay ‘rags’ of the day. “This video will tug at the heartstrings of millions of gay club goers,” Smith said. “Much like scrapbooks and home movies from our childhood, the visual imagery opens a floodgate of emotions and a multitude of memories of the ‘good old days’. It also serves to underscore the sheer volume of safe spaces that built our community.”

Kesten, Executive Director of SNMAL, elaborates: “Stonewall National Museum, Archives and Library and The Gay Barchives Project ‘RAISING THE BARS,’ initiative will document and preserve gay history through LGBTQ+ Bars that served as safe havens for tens of thousands of people and that history is important to preserve, collect, and share.” Kesten stated that this will be an ongoing effort and invites everyone to reach out with information regarding establishments knowing that many may have been omitted or overlooked.

SNMAL plans to release an updated version with potentially as many as 5000 LGBTQ bar logos in time for LGBTQ History Month in October. The video slideshow will be made available to bar owners, community leaders and queer historians for their use.

In addition to the video project, Raising The Bars is planning a gay trivia book, a video interview series, traveling exhibits and a variety of events designed to preserve the memories of the bars we lost and to celebrate those that still serve our community.

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