Browse Exhibits (6 total)

“Gay is Good”: Gay and Lesbian Organizing in DC, 1961-1975

"Gay is Good": DC-based gay rights activist Dr. Franklin Kameny coined this slogan in the 1960s to convince gay people of their dignity and self-worth. As co-founder and leader of the Mattachine Society of Washington, Kameny played a role in dismantling anti-gay federal policies, including those that barred homosexuals from federal employment. Kameny and his fellow activists also challenged the American Psychiatric Association for pathologizing homosexuality. This exhibit explores gay and lesbian organizing in DC, 1961-1975, in its historical and political context.


Community Pioneers: Creators of DC's LGBTQ Communities

In 2003, Rainbow History Project established the Community Pioneer Award to recognize people whose contributions to the LGBTQ communities of greater metropolitan Washington DC merited special commendation. The recipients of this award are chosen for their pioneering work to establish the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities of today's DMV.

Awards have been announced in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015, and, most recently 2021. 

In December, 2021, Rainbow History Project honored its newest class of Community Pioneers. Due to pandemic conditions, no physical celebration occurred, but a special video presentation was created. It can be viewed on the RHP YouTube page

Dr. Herman Lynn Womack: First Amendment Pioneer

Dr. H. Lynn (Herman Lynn) Womack was a pioneer in fighting to expand the rights of gay men to have access to gay-themed content. His efforts to fight the use of obscenity laws to prevent gay content from being distributed through the U.S. Mail resulted in key decisions from the United States Supreme Court that expanded First Amendment protections for gay men throughout the United States. This exhibit explores Womack's role as first amendment pioneer, publisher, and gay rights advocate.

Gay Liberation Front

Many of the individuals that founded GLF-DC helped fight for civil rights and peace in the 1960s, but found their sexuality at odds with the radical left of 1970.

As Michael Ferri, a founding member of Washington DC's Gay Liberation Front recalls: “We wanted to establish that we were part of the people’s movement, that we were oppressed people, too.” [interview with Rainbow History, 02/05/06]

What started as a letter to the editor of an underground paper grew into two collective houses that worked with other justice-seeking groups, including the Black Panthers and the Gay Activists Alliance, while protecting and celebrating gay sexual identity.

Gay Women's Alternative

The Gay Women's Alternative of DC (GWA-DC) created a safe space for lesbian women in the metropolitan area to socialize and explore relavent issues through a network of social  and educational events. The GWA-DC served as an alternative to both the closet and bars to the lesbian community of greater-Washington DC from 1981 through 1993. 

The ClubHouse, 1975-1990

This exhibit explores the role that The ClubHouse played in the African American gay community of Washington, D.C. Opened in 1975 by Aundrea and Paulette Scott, John Eddy, Chasten Morell, and Rainey Cheeks, The ClubHouse provided the central focus of African-American gay DC social life for 15 years.