The National Parks Service has released its first-ever report of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer history — the culmination of a two-year study. So, yes — you were wrong if you thought the National Parks Service was all about forests, trees, and natural spaces for your family to enjoy.
“The study is the first of its kind conducted by any national government and identifies places and events associated with the civil rights struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified Americans,” the Department of the Interior said in a statement.
Is it possible the same nation that has historic monuments to young soldiers who laid down their lives on faraway soil will share historic honors with a bathhouse?
American history has long focused its celebrations on straight white men, the report says. Of more than 90,000 places on the list of National Historic Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places, just 10 are currently listed explicitly because of their historic significance for LGBT people.
Simple math explains this: LGBT people make up only a tiny percentage of the U.S. population.
The study’s goal is to make the case for why roughly 1,300 locations deserve recognition. It’s meant as a kind of guidebook for individuals who might nominate those places or others like them in their own communities, the Washington Examiner reported.
“Also among the locations are hospitals, bathhouses, hotels, parks, bridges, and bars, which became especially important safe places for the gay community during the past 50 years,” as Time.com noted.
Is it possible the same nation that has historic monuments to young soldiers who sacrificed their lives on faraway soil will share historic honors with a bathhouse?
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and Tim Gill, a philanthropist and founder of the Gill Foundation, released the findings this week.
The Gill Foundation is headed by wealthy and successful Tim Gill, founder and former chairman of Quark Inc. The foundation is dedicated to “advancing equality by supporting nonprofit organizations that serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied individuals, as well as people with HIV/AIDS.”
Since its inception, according to its website, the Gill Foundation has invested more than $304 million in programs and nonprofit organizations throughout the country. Gill is himself gay and is married to his partner.
The Obama administration has pushed this initiative to “ensure that the National Park Service reflects and tells a more complete story of the people and events responsible for building of this nation,” according to Time.com.
Or is it the Gill Foundation, sympathetic to LGBT causes, that has pushed (and funded) the study that will change the nation’s parks and public spaces?
Interestingly, the Gill Foundation’s current vice president of policy, Raghavan Guatam, served as President Obama’s liaison to the LGBT community from 2011 to 2014.
“If fair is fair, then if Trump were to become president and a wealthy conservative group asked his administration to commission a study on historic places to conservatives, there could soon be monuments around the country to historic conservatives,” said one Boston-area businessman and father of three.
The study release coincided with National Coming Out Day and National LGBT History Month.
The release coincided with National Coming Out Day, and with National LGBT History Month.
“The contributions of women, minorities, and members of the LGBT community have been historically underrepresented in the National Park Service, and the LGBT theme study will help ensure that we understand, commemorate, and share these key chapters in our nation’s complex and diverse history,” Jewell said in 2014 when announcing the study.
Earlier this year, Obama designated the Stonewall Inn as a national monument. The 1969 Stonewall Riots are widely considered the beginning of the modern LGBT civil rights movement.
Following this civil rights logic, we should soon see the boarded-up businesses in Baltimore, Maryland, and in parts of Missouri that fell victim to the race riots as must-see historic stops on schoolchildren’s history field trips.