State Capitol Removes LGBTQ History Exhibit

Image via Missouri State Capitol Commission Facebook page

Before the Stonewall Riots, Missouri was the heart of gay rights activism in America.

In 1966, at least 40 people from 15 LGBTQ groups met in Kansas City for a two-day conference to form the National Planning Conference of Homosexual Organizations. A local newspaper called it “the first national concerted effort of organizations composed of homosexuals or concerned with their problems.”

Together, they declared that being gay was a “justifiable way of life” and pushed local and national leaders across the country to abolish laws criminalizing “private homosexual conduct.” A strategy was adopted to advocate for gay rights, planned demonstrations, and set up a legal-defense fund.

This conference was such a crucial part of LGBTQ history that it was highlighted in an exhibit titled “Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights,” which opened earlier this week inside the Missouri State Museum, which is house in the first floor of the state capitol.

However, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which runs the parks system that oversees the museum, removed the exhibit four days later. It was supposed to be on display until Dec. 26. 

A spokeswoman for the DNR declined to say why the display was taken down or who made the decision, but Kelli Jones, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson (R), said in a statement that the department removed it because the process for setting up temporary exhibits in the Capitol had not been followed. 

“The Department of Natural Resources manages the Museum and state statute requires the Department to coordinate activities relating to the Museum with the Board of Public Buildings,” Jones says.

She continued on saying Parson was not aware of the exhibit, but his office received “several complaints” about it.

Democratic State Sen. Greg Razer, the only openly gay lawmaker in the Missouri Senate, says he spoke with DNR director Dru Buntin Thursday afternoon and was given the same reason for the removed, which he called “a convenient excuse.”

“I am extremely disappointed and angry that Missouri State Parks would bend to pressure from those who want to see people like me stripped of our rights and our dignity as American citizens,” he stated on Twitter. “This is nothing but ‘cancel culture’ coming from those who want the LGBT community to simply disappear into the shadows again.”

 

One of the complaints came from Uriah Stark, a legislative aide to Republican state Rep. Mitch Boggs. He had posted his objections to the exhibit Tuesday on Facebook, saying the museum was “pushing the LGBT agenda.”

In a follow-up post Wednesday, he celebrated the exhibit’s removal by thanking two legislators and writing, “To God be the glory!”

Razer later tweeted that the people who work with him know that he is much more than just the “gay Senator,” but he will “fight like hell” against people who attack the LGBTQ community and use the state government to “erase us.”

“I can’t believe [Missouri State Parks] acquiesced to such small-minded bigotry,” he wrote. “I expected more of a backbone.”

The exhibit was organized by students in the public history program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and consisted of banners with messages documenting the work of early LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the city. It has been displayed around the state since the students assembled it in 2017, and there is an online version with extensive information.


 

1 thought on “State Capitol Removes LGBTQ History Exhibit”

  1. Not a surprise since the Govenor is a member of the klan. He is well known racist and a complete homophobe and has the most disgusting face that has a serial killer look to it.

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