National Park Service: Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender History - Theme Study
  • Stonewall Inn, New York City

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Heritage Initiative

LGBTQ Initiative Theme Study


Theme studies provide an historic context that informs the identification of significant properties in the context of the National Register/National Historic Landmarks programs. The LGBTQ theme study also provides important background information for other research efforts, and can be used to provide opportunities for the public to learn about about the nation's heritage through interpretive and educational programs.

The following list of chapter topics is proposed for the LGBTQ theme study; where contracts have been signed, authors names are given. As authors agree to write chapters and sign and return their contracts, they will be added here.


The chapters in the Introduction section give context to the rest of the theme study; the context for the contexts, as it were. This section gives background on the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative, defines terms commonly used throughout the theme study, provides information on how the theme study fits in within the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks programs, and provides a broad social history of LGBTQ in America. What you read in this Introductory section will resonate throughout the rest of the theme study.

Prologue, Mr. Mark Meinke

Introduction, Ms. Megan E. Springate

Nominating Properties, Ms. Megan E. Springate

Intersectionality, Ms. Megan E. Springate

General LGBTQ History, Dr. Leisa Meyer


Much of the existing scholarship on LGBTQ history in America focuses on white, middle-class, largely male, urban communities. These are important histories, but for structural and cultural reasons, they have become the main story (dominant narrative) that people think about when  they think about LGBTQ history. Authors of the theme study were asked specifically to broaden their narrative to include other communities that fall under the LGBTQ umbrella. Inclusion, however, isn’t enough to describe the geographic, economic, legal, and other cultural factors that shaped these diverse histories. In response, we commissioned chapters providing broad historical contexts specifically for two-spirit, transgender, Latino/a, African American, and Asian American communities (as well as those who live in Rural areas, presented in the Places section of the theme study). These  chapters, read in concert with the chapter on Intersectionality, serve as examples of how limiting an exclusive master narrative is and how rich a multi-faceted narrative is when considering the full history of the United States.

Two-Spirits, Dr. Will Roscoe

Transgender, Dr. Susan Stryker

Latino/a, Dr. Deena J. González and Dr. Ellie D. Hernandez

African American, Dr. Jeffrey A. Harris

Bisexual, Dr. Loraine Hutchins

Asian American, Dr. Amy Sueyoshi


The chapters in this section take themes as their starting points. They explore different aspects of LGBTQ history and heritage, tying them to specific places across the country.

Creating Community, Dr. Christina B. Hanhardt

LGBTQ Spaces and Places, Dr. Jen Jack Gieseking

Civil Rights, Ms. Megan E. Springate

Crime, Punishment, and the Law, Dr. Marc Stein

Business and Labor, Dr. David K. Johnson

Sex, Love, & Relationships, Ms. Tracy Baim

Spirituality and Religion, Dr. Drew Bourn

Health, Dr. Katie Batza

Art and Artists, Dr. Tara Burk

Military, Dr. Steve Estes

Leisure and Sport, Ms. Katherine Schweighofer

Historic Preservation (Archival), Mr. Gerard Koskovich

Historic Preservation (Architectural), Dr. Gail Dubrow


Unlike the Themes section of the theme study, this Places section looks at LGBTQ history and heritage at specific locations across the United States. While a broad LGBTQ American history is presented in the Introduction section, these chapters document the regional, and often quite different, histories across the country. In addition to New York City and San Francisco, often considered the epicenters of LGBTQ experience, the queer histories of Chicago, Miami, and Reno are also presented. In addition, a chapter on rural LGBTQ heritage challenges the oft-implied assumption that LGBTQ history is an urban one. Finally, an archaeological context describes ways of accessing and thinking about important LGBTQ history that may remain hidden just under the ground surface, even when buildings and structures have been demolished.

Chicago, Ms. Jessica Herczeg-Konecny

New York City, Mr. Jay Shockley and Mr. Ken Lustbader

San Francisco, Ms. Shayne Watson and Ms. Donna Graves

Miami, Dr. Julio Capó, Jr.

Reno, Mr. John Jeffrey Auer IV

Rural, Dr. Colin R. Johnson

Archaeological Context, Ms. Megan E. Springate


People engage with history in many ways, not just through reading books and reports. The chapters in this section are designed as resources for NPS interpreters, museum staff, teachers, professors, parents, and others who do applied history work and who wish to incorporate LGBTQ history and heritage into their programs, lessons, exhibits, and courses.

Interpreting LGBTQ Sites, Dr. Susan Ferentinos

Teaching LGBTQ Sites, Dr. Leila J. Rupp