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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

LGBTQ History Exhibit Removed From Missouri Capitol Arrives in St. Louis

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 2:05 PM

click to enlarge "Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights" was removed from the Missouri Capitol in September after being on display for just a few days. It is now on display at the Civic Lounge of Cortex Innovation Community. - COURTESY OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL OF ST. LOUIS
  • Courtesy of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis
  • "Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights" was removed from the Missouri Capitol in September after being on display for just a few days. It is now on display at the Civic Lounge of Cortex Innovation Community.

An LGBTQ+ exhibit removed from Missouri’s Capitol after only a few days of being on display has found its way to St. Louis, thanks to a coalition made up of local businesses, individuals, and civic and religious organizations.

The first stop for the traveling exhibit is at the Civic Lounge of Cortex Innovation Community, located at 4220 Duncan Avenue. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the display is a duplicate, and the original pieces are still located at the Lohman Building in Jefferson City.



In a press conference Tuesday morning, leaders from various religious and civic organizations celebrated the arrival of the exhibit in St. Louis. Charlie Brennan, a host at KMOX who helped lead the efforts to bring the exhibit to St. Louis, acknowledged the removal to a “less prominent and visible location” in Jefferson City, and said the coalition gathered feels that “this history should not be discounted or dismissed.”

Titled "Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights,” the exhibit made its way to the state Capitol in late August, but was removed after complaints. Governor Parson said the exhibit was removed due to processes not being followed, but that left more questions from officials who said going to the governor or a board of public buildings for approval was never required before.

Curated in 2017 by University of Missouri Kansas City students, the exhibit explores the role of LGBTQ activists prior to the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. The panels tell the story of the hardships the LGBTQ community in Kansas City faced in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, then dives into the city’s role in the gay liberation movement.

Telling the stories of the Kansas City LGBTQ activists is important, Bishop Deon Johnson of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri said at the news conference, because without them, the story of Missouri and America is incomplete.
click to enlarge Bishop Deon Johnson speaks at a press conference that marks the opening of "Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights." - JENNA JONES
  • Jenna Jones
  • Bishop Deon Johnson speaks at a press conference that marks the opening of "Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights."

“This exhibit is about looking through the glass of history and seeing and hearing the stories of real people that lived and loved the best way they could,” Johnson added, “and the best way that God created them to be in the midst of setback and struggle. To honor their stories, to honor the story of who we are...we must tell the whole story.”

With its arrival to St. Louis, Making History becomes a complement to existing initiatives and exhibits. Representatives from the Missouri Historical Society and the St. Louis LGBT History Project were present to both commemorate the arrival of the Kansas City exhibit and remind St. Louisans there are three displays of LGBTQ history in the Missouri area: one in Springfield, Kansas City’s and the Missouri History Museum’s Gateway to Pride virtual exhibit.

Phillip Deitch, the president of the St. Louis LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, stood by the president of St. Louis Black Pride Randy Rafter to acknowledge the importance of having organizations like theirs and exhibits like this one.

“When each and every one of us looks in the mirror, they can recognize the mosaic which makes up their own life,” Deitch said at the news conference. “But some aspects of identity face discrimination or invisibility that others don’t have to experience. So, it all comes down to this: We all believe that increasing public awareness of the struggles that LGBTQ and other minorities have faced in history is a powerful tool for creating a truly inclusive community in the future. Knowing about each other means to care about each other.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Civic Lounge of Cortex Innovation Community until December 10. From there, it will move to the Gallery at Chesterfield’s the District from December 11 to January 5. The Food Hall at the City Foundry will complete the exhibit’s current tour schedule from January 6 to February 3, but the coalition is currently looking for more places to house Making History and will announce future dates at a later time.

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at jenna@riverfronttimes.com
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