We center a great amount of our LGBT history around Stonewall Inn. There are other events in our community's history that happened before the Stonewall Riots. One such event received some well deserved attention this past week as well as a historical marker of its own.
In 1966, 39 national LGBT civil rights leaders joined each other to plan strategies and develop collaborations. They met,for the first time ever, at the State Hotel formerly on 12th and Wyandotte Streets in Kansas City, Missouri.That small, 2-day conference included major gay and lesbian political figures from both the east and west coasts. There were representatives of the Mattachine Society, including founder and Missouri native Hal Call; the two founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian advocacy group; founding members of ONE, Inc., out of Los Angeles. This consortium became known as the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations – “homophile” a term used at the time as we use “LGBT” today.Immediately after the Kansas City meeting, Drew Shafer and other local organizers formally established the Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom, Kansas City’s first gay advocacy organization.In partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, LGBT-KC, a community volunteer committee, [unveiled] an historical marker across from the hotel site, commemorating both the 50th anniversary of that historic meeting and the founding of the Phoenix Society. GLAMA and LGBT-KC have been working for nearly two years with representatives of City Hall and Visit KC on the marker project.“We are thrilled to shine a light on this hidden piece of Kansas City history and milestone of the struggle for LGBT civil rights in America”, said David Jackson, a member of LGBT-KC. – thephoenixnewsletter.com
Congrats to Kansas City and thank you for adding to our rich history in ways many of us did not know.