UK Libraries Exhibit Explores History of Kentucky's African American LGBTQ Community

by: Whitney Hale

(Feb. 2, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Special Collections and Research Center (SCRC) is presenting a new exhibition on LGBTQ members of the African-American community in the Commonwealth. "A Pictorial History of African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Persons in Kentucky," the 2015 Black History Month Exhibit, brings visibility to a history that has not been well represented within most special collections and archives. This exhibition is free and open to the public.

The exhibition's display of images comes from photo collections at UK SCRC and from generous loans by individuals and organizations in the general public. The earliest image is the text of the more than century old Kentucky Court of Appeals case, Commonwealth v. Poindexter.  The case was decided in 1909 and is believed to be the earliest and the first successful attempt by two African-American men to challenge the Kentucky sodomy law.  

Bluegrass Black Pride with Lexington MayorThe timeline of "A Pictorial History of African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Persons in Kentucky" moves from the court case in 1909 to the drag shows held at the Woodland Park Auditorium in the 1930s, known as the Negro Review, to members and activities of present day organizations such as Bluegrass Black Pride and the campus student organization Shades of Pride.

"A Pictorial History of African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Persons in Kentucky" may be viewed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through Feb. 28, on the first floor of the M.I. King Library Building. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the African American and Africana Studies Program and Shades of Pride. 

UK Special Collections Research Center is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian collection and the digital library, ExploreUK. The mission of the center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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