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We want OutHistory to be a place where you can share your work on LGBTQ+ history. As you can see from the material on the site, people have shared their research on a wide variety of topics and in a wide variety of ways. Share your work on a place, a person, an event, an organization: if it’s about LGBTQ+ history, about men who loved men and women who loved women, or about people who crossed gender identities, we want to know.

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Why LGBTQ+ History Matters

The value of recovering LGBTQ+ history is illustrated by a number of striking examples.

1. The historians' brief in Lawrence v. Texas, and the historical evidence and arguments presented, played a major role in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision that overturned state sodomy laws. Likewise, historians’ briefs in Obergefell v. Hodges played an influential role in the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

2. In the 1980s, Allan Berube traveled the country with a slide show about  LGBTQ+ people fighting as soldiers in World War II. In 1990, his book Coming Out Under Fire was published. His historical research brought out veterans whose organizing led to the gays-in-the-military debates of 1993, and, finally, to the end of the U.S. military's anti-homosexual policy in 2011.

3. After California passed the FAIR Education Act in 2011, requiring the teaching of LGBT history in public schools, both supporters and opponents recognized the action as profoundly important. Teach LGBT history widely, each side knew, and the consequences for the future will be immense. 

4. In 2014 the U.S. National Park Service launched an "LGBT Heritage Initiative" to identify sites associated with LGBT U.S. history. This theme study will provide a preservation roadmap for both National Historic Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places. 

5. Recent references by U.S. presidents make LGBTQ+ rights an issue of  national and international concern, a development few imagined before the 1950s. All are now called upon to understand President Barack Obama's comment, in his 2013 inaugural speech, about the moral principle that all are created, a vision that "guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall." 

6. In 1957 Franklin Kameny, because of his homosexuality, was dismissed from his job as an astronomer in the U.S. Army's Map Service. This led, in the 1960s, to Kameny's spearheading a new militancy in the homophile movement. LGBTQ+ activists in Washington, D.C., have used Kameny's history to win recognition of his work from major institutions -- the Library of Congress and Smithsonian, among them. These historical activists also extracted a formal apology from the federal government for the wrongs done to Kameny. 

7. One of the earliest examples of substantial research on LGBTQ+ history began with a documentary play compiled and written by Jonathan Ned Katz, and produced by the Gay Activists Alliance in New York in 1972. So the work of recovering LGBTQ+ peoples' past arose directly out of the post-Stonewall gay liberation movement. The recovery of LGBTQ+ history remains today an important form of public service, education, and activism.

Despite these examples, the history of LGBTQ+ people remains unknown to most people, including most LGBTQ+ people. This continued marginalization is unfortunate because LGBTQ+ history has the power to inspire and change people, whatever their identity or outlook. Histories of people in the past open hearts and minds.

Knowing about past persecution is a goad to present activism. Knowing about past resistance to discrimination encourages resistance to discrimination in the present. Knowing how much has changed shows that substantial change is possible -- that today’s work to create change can make a substantially better future for LGBTQ+ people. History mobilizes people. It is a tool for social change and social justice.

Why OutHistory Matters

As a major website on LGBTQ+ history, OutHistory reaches people around the world, helping to resist isolation, invisibility, marginalization, and oppression and promoting community formation, social empowerment, and political activism.

By distributing new and accurate information about the LGBTQ+ past, OutHistory affects the consciousness of present-day activists and informs their work to rectify existing discrimination, injustice, and inequality.

Knowledge of LGBTQ+ history provides evidence of past oppression that suggests new avenues for current struggles. For example, research published on OutHistory documents Father Junipero Serra’s punishment of two Native American men for “abominable vice,” in present-day California, around 1777. This history received new attention when Pope Francis made Father Serra a saint. OutHistory points out links between past and current events with relevance for LGBTQ+ political campaigns. OutHistory makes the past relevant to the present.

Since it went online in 2008, OutHistory has published substantial, original research on the formerly hidden LGBTQ+ past:

• On the 40th anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, OutHistory published previously unknown police records of the raid.

• OutHistory published a previously lost manuscript autobiography by the groundbreaking trans activist and writer Earl Lind/Jennie June/Ralph Werther, dating to 1921.

• OutHistory published Alan Bernstein's previously unknown 149 page defense of homosexuality, written in 1940, and a detailed biography of Bernstein.

• OutHistory published an original essay, “James Baldwin and the FBI: 'Isn’t Baldwin That Well Known Pervert,'” on the influential African American gay writer

The site has published original historical essays by Claire Bond Potter, John D'Emilio, Jen Manion, Joan Nestle, Hunter O'Hara, Pauline Park, Randall Sell, Marc Stein, Rich Wilson, and other researchers.

Future OutHistory Projects

Since its debut in 2008, OutHistory has achieved a great deal, almost entirely with volunteer labor. In the future, OutHistory hopes to build on its past accomplishments.

1. In October 2014, OutHistory directors Katz and Potter were part of the team that won a grant from the National Park Service to support diversity in the National Register of Historic Places. The grant supported a survey and the documentation of LGBT historical and cultural sites in New York City.

2. In August 2014 Claire Bond Potter was informed that the The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation approved a grant to support OutHistory's “United States of AIDS” project. The history of the activist response to AIDS will be presented in a module that high school and college teachers can easily integrate into U.S. history courses. The module will tie AIDS activism to major themes in American history such as freedom, justice, government, power and community.

3. The teaching of LGBTQ+ history in schools and the necessary curriculum reform is now a key LGBTQ+ organizing issue. Outhistory plans to cooperate with other organizations in making quality LGBTQ+ history research available in classrooms. As a website directed by historians, OutHistory will seek funds to make reliable information about LGBTQ+ history available for integration into the history curriculum.

4. So much information is now available on LGBTQ history that it is difficult for an individual to take in what is known and in what time periods there are great gaps in knownledge. One of the main functions of OutHistory is agglomerative, to broadly identify what is known and where great gaps exist in knowledge of the LGBTQ past.