LOCK HAVEN — “The Long Road to LGBTQ+ Equality in Pennsylvania,” a traveling history exhibit that chronicles the efforts advocates have undertaken in the state to achieve full equality for LGBTQ+ people, opened at Stevenson Library on the campus of Lock Haven University on April 9 and will run through April 30, 2019.
With the lack of success in passing statewide legislative protections from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and education, activists have been working for more than five decades to obtain these protections one battle at a time, one municipality at a time.
The exhibit uses case studies of several cities and townships to highlight not just the political struggles, but the personal stories as well. The exhibit opened in early 2019 on the 50th anniversary year of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal in the LGBTQ+ movement toward equality.
The exhibit tells these stories through historical narrative, photographs and videos of oral history first person accounts of activists involved in the struggles to achieve protection from discrimination. Along the way, they faced harassment, physical assault, arson and bombings.
Dr. Rick Schulze, professor in the Department of Health Science, and John Gradel, assistant director of international student services and international admissions, organized the exhibit showing on loan from the PA LGBT History Network, whose mission is to engage people in discovering Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ+ history, historic sites, history projects, artifacts, archival collections and to facilitate collaborations. Barry Loveland is the exhibit curator.
“Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state in the United States that doesn’t have anti-LGBT bias laws,” Schulze said. “We hope this exhibit will help some Lock Haven students and local citizens understand the struggles associated with discrimination and bias and recognize why we need legislation.” Schulze is a volunteer with the LHU President’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.
“The exhibit is colorful, vibrant and features easy-to-read floor panels, videos and spotlights how anti-bias laws were enacted in cities like Harrisburg, Allentown, York and Lancaster,” Gradel said. “The exhibit can stand on its own without a speaker so anyone at Lock Haven University or in Clinton County can visit it at their own pace.”
“The exhibit can help people understand how bias and discrimination harm one another,” said Bre Reynolds, chairperson, President’s Commission on LGBTQ Studies and assistant director of admissions. “We want anyone with an interest in history, equality and fairness to visit the exhibit.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours. Library hours can be found at http://library.lockhaven.edu/hours.