Smithsonian Museum Welcomes LGBT History to Collection


The Smithsonian Institution announced Aug. 19 that it will now include hundreds of photographs, papers, and historical objects detailing the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community.

Smithsonian Gay Rights History

This handout photo provided by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History shows production scripts and press materials from NBC’s Will & Grace program, 2000-2006. Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, the creative power behind the hit situation comedy, intentionally presented LGBT characters who were not stereotyped, caricatured, or demeaned. The success of Will & Grace marked a turning point in media portrayals. The museum is acquiring several pieces of history from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, including items from the TV show “Will and Grace.” (AP Photo/Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

The items include everything from the diplomatic passports of the first openly gay U.S. Ambassador, David  Huebner, and his husband, to curating classic sitcoms such as the TV show “Will and Grace.”

According to the Associated Press, “Will and Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnicksaid the Smithsonian’s interest in the show was an honor that they never dreamed of when the sitcom first aired in 1998. The sitcom, which ran until 2006, chronicles the dating life of four friends, two openly gay males and two straight females. The show ended with the main characters eventually becoming a couple and having children.

The creators of the show and NBC will donate original scripts, casting ideas, props, and political memorabilia to the museum.

LGBT3

The National Museum of American History expanded its LGBT collections, including the first transgender pride flag and Renée Richards’ tennis racket. (Photo Credit:Max Kutner/Smithsonian.com)

“These particular guests that were invited into people’s living rooms happened to be your gay friends,” Kohan said to the Associated Press. “I don’t think people really had the opportunity to have that before, and it served to, I think, make people recognize that your close friends were gay.”

Curators for the museum will also add to the collection a tennis racket from former professional tennis player Renee Richards. According to the website LGBThistorymonth, Richards became a transgendered icon in 1977 when she won a landmark lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association. She sued the association for its denial to let her compete in the U.S. Open women’s division after her gender reassignment surgery from biological male to female.

The collection will also include photographs from Patsy Lynch and Sylvia Ros, in addition to other materials from a gay community center in Baltimore.


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