“LGBTQ Life in DC” discussion at DC Public Library

District of Change: LGBTQ Life in D.C. Then and Now

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW | Washington, DC

RSVP to districtofchange-lgbtq.eventbrite.com or call 202.727.1183

For decades the LGBTQ community has been a vibrant and prominent part of life in the District. From Frank Kameny’s fight against the lavender scare of the 1950s to marriage equality and the #TransRespect campaign in the new millennium, LGBTQ life in D.C. has changed dramatically. Just how different is LGBTQ D.C. from its historic roots and where is today’s LGBTQ community going?

Join us for a discussion on the past, present, and future of LGBTQ life in the District with moderator Mark Joseph Stern, writer on LGBTQ issues for Slate, in discussion with panelists:
Andrew Sullivan, founder and editor, The Daily Dish.
Philip Pannell, spokesperson and community activist for the gay community, citizens of Ward 8, and civil libertarians across the District.
Loraine Hutchins, bisexual and feminist author, activist, and sex educator.


dcpl flier 001

Oral History Training Documents Online

In July and September Rainbow History Project have trained 12 new volunteers to record oral history interviews with members of the community. We also had interest from many people who will attend future sessions (TBD). If you are interested in becoming a volunteer interviewer, please let us know!

Training documents for conducting oral history interviews are posted online:

Oral History Training Packet

Oral History Narrator Permissions

Oral History Volunteer Release

If you would like to have your story included in the archives of the Rainbow History Project, please get in touch with us (info@rainbowhistory.org)

Archiving Session: Newsletters and Fliers

On Saturday, 23 August 2014, a group of volunteers met at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. to work on the “Newsletters and Fliers o the LGBT Community” collection. Valuable community materials collected by the former Gay Community Center of Washington DC, this collection has hundreds of newsletters from over 50 different community organizations.

We are still in the process of organizing the material, describing it, and placing it in archival containers. Some of the newsletters have also been scanned and posted online in our catalog. View those items from “Newsletters and Fliers of the LGBT Community.”






Redesigned Website Launches!

Welcome to the new rainbowhistory.org!  We have re-launched our site with an entirely new architecture that will help us more easily update pages, announce new developments, and share artifacts and documents–everything you loved before is still here, too! It’s just living in a new home.

This new site is going to help us grow in a few ways:

  • The new site is a blog with information and posts about our activities, current events, or research projects.
  • The collections catalog contains descriptions of documents, images, and recordings we’ve collected over the years–including any digitized historic material!
  • New exhibitions galleries contain online presentations of artifacts alongside expert analysis–a virtual museum!

Welcome to the new site!  Please take a tour and feel free to share any feedback!



Rainbow History at 2014 Capital Pride Street Festival

The Rainbow History Project team participated in the 2014 Capital Pride Street Festival. We shared a booth with our archival partner, The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., which covered the enrollment costs. Dozens of people signed up to participate in our oral history program, and countless more took an LGBT DC History Quiz, reviewed artifacts on display, and received brochures of our historic walking tours.  

StaffatBoothcrop InsideBooth

Above right, Rainbow History Project board member Bonnie Morris (seated) and Historical Society of Washington staff member Adam Lewis (facing camera) welcome visitors at the Capital Pride Street Festival. Above right, memorabilia on display inside the booth. Photos by Richard Haight.

“Gay Power to Gay People”: The Gay Liberation Front-DC Public Panel Dicussion

On Saturday, June 7, the we held our public panel discussion on the Gay Liberation Front DC. Former members of the GLF-DC, Brian Miller, Kent Jarratt, Michael Yarr, and Nancy Tucker shared their recollections with over 100 community members in attendance.  The room was ‘standing-room-only’ and the panelists brought to life that period of rapid change within the LGBT community.

Board members of the Rainbow History Project would like to thank everyone who attended the panel on the history of the Gay Liberation Front-DC. The session was recorded and is now part of Rainbow History Project Panel Discussions collection.

PhilipPanelAudienceed AudienceShoted

All photos courtesy the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.



Community Pioneer Robert Alfandre Dies at Age 87

Philanthropist and developer Robert Alfandre died June 12, 2014 at his home in Washington, DC after a long struggle with cancer. Alfandre played a major role in helping the Whitman-Walker Clinic meet the challenges of the AIDS in the 1980s through his generosity and tireless efforts to help the Clinic raise the funds necessary to provide the services needed for combating the disease, among other things funding the Carroll Sledz house, a residence for those terminally ill with the disease. The pharmacy at Whitman Walker Clinic is named in his honor. He is survived by his wife Patricia, two daughters, four grandchildren, his brother and his companion Sidney Martin. His partner Carroll Sledz died of AIDS in the 1980s. To read more about Alfandre, view our exhibit on Community Pioneers. The Washington Blade has published an obituary of Alfandre.

Bob Alfandre. Photo c. Jim Marks, 2012.

Bob Alfandre at his home in DC. Photo, Jim Marks, 2012.



“Gay Power to Gay People”: The Gay Liberation Front-DC Exhibit on view through June, 2014

An exhibit featuring items from the Rainbow History Project’s collections on the Gay Liberation Front-DC is now on view throughout the month of June at the Kiplinger Library of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.  In conjunction with a June 6 2014 panel discussion,  the exhibit shows key documents concerning the GLF-DC and the ferment of activity that followed the Stonewall riots in 1969. The exhibit hours are Monday through Thursday, 10AM – 4PM.

ExhibitEntrance ExhibitPhoto

The Kiplinger Library is in the former Carnegie Library, 801 K St NW Washington, DC (Mount Vernon Square between K and New York Avenue NW and between 7th and 9th sts. NW).

See also these articles in the Washington Blade and Metro Weekly.

Upcoming Event: Panel Discussion: GLF-DC, June 7, 2014

In conjunction with the 2014 Capital Pride festivities, the Rainbow History Project will host a public panel discussion on the 1970s-era Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Invoking the chants used at political rallies and public demonstrations of the time, the panel is titled “‘Gay Power to Gay People’: The Gay Liberation Front-DC.”  The panel is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and will take place at HSW’s Kiplinger Library located in the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square (801 K St. NW) on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 11 a.m.  The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

Based on the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the anti-war movement, the Gay Liberation Front was one of many radical groups created following the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Participating in protests, social organizing, and demonstrations, the GLF sought to change social norms and to obtain visibility and rights for all gay people.  Branches were established across the country and often included a commune or social house around which activities revolved.  In Washington, DC, the GLF house was based at 1620 S Street, NW.

The impact of the GLF on the local community, and the countless organizations which its members founded, are key parts of the history tracked by the Rainbow History Project.  The panel will be moderated by Rainbow History Project board member Philip Clark, who stated as his reason for organizing this panel, “In a time of rising assimilation by the LGBT community, it’s crucial to remember the radical roots of our equality movement, as exemplified by Gay Liberation Front-DC.”

Clark will moderate the panel, which will reunite four former members of the GLF in DC for the weekend to speak about the history and influence of GLF:

  • Brian Miller, a longtime resident of DC, attended GLF meetings and was connected to the GLF house and its offshoot, the Skyline Collective.
  • Kent Jarratt, one of the founding members of both GLF-DC and Skyline, helped organize consciousness-raising groups during GLF’s early days
  • Michael Yarr, after leaving the Air Force in 1970, went on to live in the anti-Vietnam war commune Northern Virginia Resistance and helped organize the DC branch of GLF
  • Nancy Tucker, a longtime DC activist and founding editor of our first gay paper, the Gay Blade, also had a public rupture with GLF because of its sexism and exclusion of women .