Designating a Religious Venue as an LGBTQ+ Historical Site

Designating a Religious Venue as an LGBTQ+ Historical Site
Thursday July 27, 2023 

Progressive faith communities have been a vital source of support for LGBTQ+ communities and this involvement is key to understanding LGBT history as a whole—in addition to LGBT religious history. In many locales, for example, churches and other religious buildings were important meeting locations and organizing hubs, serving effectively as early gay community centers.  In 2016, the U.S. National Park Service published a study, entitled LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History. This publication gave impetus to efforts to designate places of LGBTQ+ significance to the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks.  In this webinar, historian Heather White, Ph.D. and Jay Shockley, project director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, provided useful information on different efforts nationally and locally to identify places as LGBTQ+ Historical Sites.  They outlined steps that religious groups can take to document their history and to request recognition of their venue as a historical site.

Jay Shockley, an architectural historian and preservationist, was employed by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission between 1979 and 2015. As the senior historian in the Research Department, he researched and wrote more than 100 reports covering all aspects of the city’s architectural and social cultural history. He is a founder and Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, started in 2015.

Heather White, Ph.D. is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Puget Sound, teaching in gender, queer and feminist studies. Heather is the author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) and co-editor (with Bethany Moreton and Gillian Frank) of Devotions and Desires: Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States (University of North Carolina Press, 2018).


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