By Sydney Matthews
Students and staff gathered in the Small Auditorium at the Marple campus for a presentation on the history of LGBT people of Pennsylvania on Feb 27. Barry Loveland, Chairperson of the Central PA LGBT Center History Project (CPHP), gave the presentation.
“Many organizations have ignored this history either because it wasn’t important to them or it was too soon to look back on history,” Loveland said.
Loveland and other volunteers from around the state work to preserve and archive the stories of LBGT people, especially those from older generations.
They collect these artifacts in an effort to commemorate and celebrate the lives and stories of LBGT people who helped pave the way for LGBT youth in the present.
So much history has been lost,” Loveland explained. “In the past, when an LGBT person passed away, their relatives often discarded things that documented their identities. We want to save these and share them.”
The CPHP has compiled collections of artifacts into exhibits with the goal of sharing LGBT stories to a broader audience.
During the presentation, Loveland showed footage of interviews with LGBT people from central Pennsylvania who shared stories of being closeted, facing discrimination and finding acceptance.
“Cities like New York, Philadelphia and even Pittsburgh have more organizations and support for LGBT people than rural areas like Lancaster,” Loveland said during his presentation. “Out in these areas, people remained closeted much longer and there were few LGBT run businesses in the area.”
With their collection, the CPHP has launched several initiatives to display artifacts and help teach queer folks and allies the untold history of the LGBT community.
Their website features digital archives with collections of photos, guides to LGBT historical sites, and interview transcripts.
“I think it’s really interesting and it’s important that people get knowledge on LGBT history now,” said Rosie Leonard, a 20-year-old English major at Marple campus. “People no longer are ostracsized. The information and awareness is a good thing.”
Angelina Chalmers, a 19- year-old nursing major, shared the same sentiment. “I think its very important to keep history alive so that we know the struggles people went through so that we don’t have to repeat what happened in the past,” she said.
Additionally, the organization has created traveling exhibits to reach college campuses across the state. One such exhibit, The Long Road to LGBTQ+ Equality in Pennsylvania, is currently traveling and on display at the Marple campus outside of the auditorium.
The organization, along with educating, seeks to celebrate the LGBT community and progress members have made. Last year, they had a project celebrating the 50th anniversary of the pivotal Stonewall Riots.
Currently, the group has plans to continue creating documenting LGBT history and curating their collection. Loveland and peer William Burton have a book, “Out in Central Pennsylvania: The History of an LGBTQ Community” scheduled for release this year.
“CPHP started off as just a few volunteers and now it has grown to over 100 members,” said Loveland, who has long been an activist for the LGBT community.
After graduating college and moving to Montgomery, Ala. following graduating college in the 1980s, he helped found an LGBT friendly church in the city that is still active today.
“You can get anything started,” Loveland added. “You just need that spark of two or three people.”
For more information, visit Central PA LGBT history.org.
Contact Sydney Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org