National Park Service: Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender History
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    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Heritage Initiative

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative 

For more information and updates, please visit Telling All Americans’ Stories

LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History is available online. 

Find additional publications  about America’s diverse histories.

image of President Obama and Giblert Baker  

President Obama designated a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad LGBT equality movement. The new Stonewall National Monument will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.


image of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a new theme study   On May 30, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a new theme study to identify places and events associated with the story of LGBTQ Americans for inclusion in the parks and programs of the National Park Service. Secretary Jewell made the announcement outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The theme study is part of the broader heritage initiative with the following goals:

  • engaging scholars, preservationists and community members to identify, research, and tell the stories of LGBTQ associated properties;
  • encouraging national parks, national heritage areas, and other affiliated areas to interpret LGBTQ stories associated with them;
  • identifying, documenting, and nominating LGBTQ-associated sites as national historic landmarks;
  • increasing the number of listings of LGBTQ-associated properties in the National Register of Historic Places. 

LGBTQ Heritage Initiative Highlights 

The National Park Service LGBTQ Initiative projects explore how the legacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals can be recognized, preserved, and interpreted for future generations.

The intention of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer initiative is to be inclusive. We recognize that LGBTQ identities are very personal, and have also shifted over time (the idea of a homosexual identity, for example, dates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century). Using terms that are recognizable today, it is not our intention to exclude those who could not, or would not, have used them. For example, many have had the word queer used against them as an insult and accompanying physical violence; yet in the 1990s, queer was reclaimed as a word of power and identity by individuals and groups like Queer Nation who played an important role in American history. As a result of the roundtable meeting in Washington, DC in June of 2014, assembled scholars recommended that the name of the heritage initiative be changed from the LGBT Heritage Initiative to the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative. Recognizing that the word queer is uncomfortable to some, the scholars wanted to acknowledge the importance of groups like Queer Nation and the reclaiming of the word, as well as to have the initiative inclusive of those who, for personal or political reasons, do not feel represented by LGBT.

This website highlights projects undertaken by National Park Service parks and programs as part of the Service’s commitment to telling the full and inclusive history of America.

image of the LGBT Theme Study Panel  

On June 10, 2014 the National Park Service hosted a scholars' roundtable about this initiative. Watch the video of the inaugural LGBTQ Theme Study Panel discussion.

Transcript of Video

Get Involved!

Lots of people are asking us how they can get involved with the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative. In March 2015, the NPS released a 7-page document describing the different ways that members of the public can engage with the Initiative. Whether you have a few minutes or a lot of time, there are ways you can help. Read the Document Here.

About the Heritage Initiative

The history of Civil Rights underscores a large part of American experience. The National Park Service is proud to be a part of this continuing legacy of freedom and justice. Directed by Americans to steward and teach the nation’s history, the National Park Service connects and amplifies important national stories in cooperation with partner communities across the United States. Rigorous research, thoughtful interpretation and continual collaboration with the American public support such notable sites as Women’s Rights National Historic Park at Seneca Falls, New York (1980); Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia (1980); Brown vs, Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka Kansas (1992); Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas (1998); the Votes for Women History Trail (2009); Manzanar National Historic Site, Independence, California (1992); and the Caesar E. Chavez National Monument, Keane, California (2012). These are only a few of the nation’s historic sites and stories dedicated to the important and continuing legacy of American civil rights.

The NPS LGBTQ Heritage Initiative is the latest effort in this proud NPS tradition of the documentation and interpretation of civil rights history. Recognizing that identities and communities are historically situated, the LGBTQ Initiative acknowledges lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer citizens in the United States, their contributions to American life and culture and their efforts to create a safe and legitimate social and political place in American society. It explores various ways that this history can be recognized, preserved and interpreted for future generations.

About the Theme Study

A theme study is a document that provides historical context on a specific topic -- like LGBTQ -- that is underrepresented in the national park system and in official recognition programs like the National Register of Historic Places or National Historic Landmarks program. The LGBTQ theme study will provide a national historic context for  LGBTQ historic places. It will be used by a number of different groups:

  • Staff of the National Historic Landmark and National Register of Historic Places programs and in State/Tribal/Federal Historic Preservation Offices will use the theme study to help assess the significance of LGBTQ places for inclusion in the NHL and NRHP programs;

  • Community members and preservation professionals who are interested in writing NHL or NRHP nominations will use the theme study to help frame their argument for the significance of particular LGBTQ historic places;

  • Historic places with LGBTQ history and heritage will use the theme study to help shape and inform their interpretation;

  • Professors, teachers, interpreters, and others will use the theme study to guide and inform their presentation of LGBTQ history; and

  • Community members and the general public interested in LGBTQ history and heritage will use the theme study as a reference