History tells us where we came from, but for minority groups it's also a reminder of how far they've come -- and how far they have yet to go. St. Louis' LGBT community was once much more secretive, and the scene was smaller because the closet was bigger. Times have certainly changed, but for Steven L. Brawley, the passage of time was a cause for concern. The original members of that covert St. Louis scene were dying, and their history was in danger of being lost. Brawley began the St. Louis LGBT History Project to preserve the memories of the past, which meant gathering the stories and artifacts of a hidden culture. The project built a sizable collection, which goes on display at the Missouri History Museum later this year. You can get a sneak peek at this treasure trove at the gala opening reception of A History of Queer: Selections from the St. Louis LGBT History Project
from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 25, at phd gallery (2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or www.phdstl.com
). Featuring items as diverse as personal photos of early Pride parades, the clock from the city's first lesbian bar (Char Pei Lounge) and costumes worn by female impersonator Gypsy Lee in the early 70s, it's a time capsule of a long, arduous journey out of the shadows. The show remains up through Saturday, March 1, and the gallery is open Thursday through Sunday. Admission to the opening gala and the exhibit is a suggested $10 donation.
Thursdays-Sundays, 12-4 p.m. Starts: Jan. 25. Continues through March 1, 2014