Provincetown News and Information

Gay and Lesbian history on display at Provincetown Library

Published: Tue May 30, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Provincetown > Town History
Tools: Tell-a-Friend | Email this author | This is | Add to Yahoo! MyWeb | By Steve Desroches

A pair of boots owned by the first woman Army surgeon, old pulp fiction novels of same-sex love affairs and love letters between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are just a few of the items featured in an exhibition of gay and lesbian historical artifacts now at the Provincetown Public Library.
Photographic panels from the archives of the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library are on display until Thursday, June 8. The exhibit offers a unique look into the Hormel Center collection, one of the largest collections of gay and lesbian historical artifacts and information in the world. Reproductions of photographs, documents, and objects will provide an extraordinary historical perspective on the LGBT community, says Provincetown library director Debra DeJonker-Berry.

“A generation ago, men and women in America were just beginning to realize full political and social expression around issues of sexual orientation and identity, and the Hormel Center’s collection helps tell the story of this community,” says DeJonker-Berry, library director of the Provincetown Public Library. “San Francisco and Provincetown are almost sister communities. We have so many connections to San Francisco.”
The exhibit focuses on the past 100 years of gay and lesbian history in America, with a special focus on San Francisco. The gay and lesbian rights movement got its start in New York after the Stonewall riots of 1969. But the movement gained momentum and muscle in San Francisco, sparking social change across the country to present day. A few features include gay publications from the turn of the century, the appointment book of Harvey Milk, the country’s first openly-gay elected official, who was assassinated along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in 1978, and memorabilia from the days of ACT-UP and Queer Nation protests in the 1980s.
This exhibit is one of the many events and attractions that have made the Provincetown Public Library not only a home for research and information, but a tourist attraction as well.
“Between the Rose Dorothea, the Lipton Cup, our art collection, this historic building, this exhibit and our general collection, we are certainly seeing a lot of new faces in here,” said DeJonker-Berry. “It’s a very powerful exhibit. Libraries are also a community center, a community’s living room. I expect them to represent a community’s history and culture. This exhibit does that.”

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