“History Dies Every Day:” Quad Cities Pride in Memory Compiles Interviews and Artifacts to Preserve QC LGBTQ+ History | Local News

A Mary’s button on the 2nd floor. Pins from past “We Care” events, hosted by AIDS Project Quad Cities. A cookbook titled “QC Pride Cooks!”

These items mark the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Quad-Cities, and they are among the items Quad Cities Pride in Memory has collected in their quest to preserve this underrepresented history.

With these and interviews with those who grew up in the area, Kathy Bowman and other members of the initiative are slowly putting together a narrative of the past, and they are far from over.

“I hesitate to make sweeping statements except that I would say the Quad-Cities have an incredible history of embracing diversity,” Bowman said.

After a year and a half of work, Quad Cities Pride in Memory has completed 20 interviews – with audio, video and transcripts – and collected artifacts dating back 60 years.

The Putnam Museum and Science Center will eventually house and display the artifacts. Putnam’s history and anthropology curator Christina Kastell said the museum has been working since around 2012 to grow its own collection of LGBTQ+ history, so partnering with Quad Cities Pride in Memory was a “no-brainer”. .

People also read…

Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities pastor Rich Hendricks, who helped launch Quad Cities Pride in Memory with Bowman, said the group tries to reach people whose families are members of the LGBTQ+ community to artifacts, because they may not even know what they’ve been hiding.

“They may have always known that Grandma was gay, but no one talked about it. And there may be letters, memories, whatever, that could be discovered, even people who have already left” , Hendricks said. “And then those like I say who, like me, are coming of age. We have to make sure we capture their stories.”

Quad Cities Pride in Memory is also working with Augustana College to conduct formal interviews, to obtain an oral history from the QC LGBTQ+ community. Hendricks has already recorded his own interview and said he expects he will have to conduct new ones in the future as the story develops.

Once funding is secured, the materials will be used to create a documentary with Fourth Wall Films. Organizers will also hold signs and other events to help let people know what they found.

“Once you start going there, different people step in with what they know, and it really becomes a community effort,” Hendricks said. “And that’s what we want. We want people’s stories to be told.”

Many of the people who lived through the most formative moments for the LGBTQ+ community are getting older, Bowman said, which is why it’s so important to find and interview them now. Clayton Peterson, who was a leader of the Quad-Cities LGBTQ+ community for decades and helped create Quad Cities Pride in Memory, had his oral history removed before his death in November.

The initiative also aims to show young members of the LGBTQ+ community how those like them have triumphed over the toughest struggles over the years, empowering them in the fight for acceptance and freedom.

“Then they can see that progress can be made even though it may seem hopeless, and hopefully this will encourage young people to keep fighting for equal rights…” Hetrick said. “I hope this sheds some light on them.”

Like their search for items related to the region’s LGBTQ+ history, Kastell said the Putnam has also worked hard to compile artifacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. She couldn’t find anything in the museum’s archives related to the Spanish flu, much of the history they can’t show.

With the museum and Quad Cities Pride in Memory working together, they ensure that the more essential history will not be lost in time.

“History dies every day,” Kastell said. “We should, as a community, be more proud of our history and ensure that it is preserved.”