Following Father Theodore Hesburgh through the Civil Rights era
This ‘Gayborhood Guru’ shares LGBTQ history so it will be ‘harder to erase’
Before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 energized the gay rights movement, LGBTQ women and men marched in front of Philadelphia’s historic Independence Hall on the Fourth of July every year from 1965 to 1969 to demand civil rights.
“The Reminder Day protests were the first regularly organized and regularly recurring demonstrations for gay rights in the country,” historian Bob Skiba said.
Skiba has been preserving and promoting Philadelphia’s vibrant LGBTQ history for the last two decades. As the curator of collections at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, Skiba works with an incredibly diverse range of archival material, from early LGBTQ publications to political buttons to personal photo albums and correspondence. It is this last category that Skiba loves most.
“We can always examine the same nationally important figures that people have gone over and over, but I love going through people’s personal collections because it tells me how they dealt with being different in their time period, in their milieu, in their society,” Skiba said.
Skiba’s commitment to the city’s LGBTQ history extends beyond the archives. Skiba also authors a historical blog, “The Gayborhood Guru,” and gives tours of Philadelphia’s historic Gayborhood.
“I like to think if I keep on telling these stories, if we document our history, if we document who we are, it’s going to be harder and harder to erase or even to ignore.”
This report originally appeared on WHYY’s “Movers & Makers.”
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