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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

LGBTQ Heritage in Virginia

In May of 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a new theme study as part of the National Park Service Heritage Initiative to identify places and events associated with the story of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans for inclusion in the parks and programs of the agency.

The goals of the LGBTQ heritage initiative include:

  • 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.
As part of this national effort, DHR's New Dominion Virginia initiative is developing an LGBTQ theme study in Virginia to provide both historic context and a preservation roadmap for future site nominations to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Both the state and national registers, which are vital to Virginia's preservation program, rely on individuals and communities to identify, research, and nominate historic places.

Our outreach begins by learning about the history of people and places important to LGBTQ individuals in Virginia. DHR has posted an online form to recieve suggestions, stories, or other facts about the LGBTQ movement in Virginia. The agency will use the information gathered to update research materials featured below and to update a Virginia LGBTQ Heritage Map, first begun in 2015 by VCU student Emily Buss.

Using interactive Google Maps, DHR's Virginia LGBTQ Heritage Map allows visitors to see historic LGBTQ-affiliated places and to share location information about historic sites via social media. The first phase of mapping focused on greater Richmond. The map is a work-in-progress with new locations added as new information becomes available.

Additionally, the documents and links below are provided to assist with forwarding Virginia's LGBTQ Heritage initiative, a deliberative multi-year, ongoing effort.

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The Ellen Glasgow House in Richmond is a National Historic Landmark. Glasgow (1873-1945), a suffragist and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, was a lesbian. (Photo: DHR, ca. 1967)

Research Materials

Bibliography of LGBTQ Heritage in Virginia: The majority of sources cited in this document concern broad patterns associated with the history of LGBTQ persons in the United States and, more specifically, in Virginia. The types of sources provided include books, journal articles, chapters, encyclopedias, online collections, films and recordings, research repositories, tours, and timelines. The bibliography is a work in progress. Additional sources will be added as they become known. When known, links to full-text materials published online are included in the bibliographic entry.

Timeline of LGBT History in Virginia and the United States: This timeline begins with the earliest recorded event associated with LGBTQ heritage in colonial Virginia and continues through the early 21st century. The timeline covers events that were national in scope that affected Virginia’s LGBTQ history as well as events, places, and people specific to the Commonwealth.

Chronology of Laws and Legal Cases Affecting LGBTQ Rights: This chronology provides highlights of laws that affected LGBTQ rights under English law and during Virginia’s colonial era, but focuses on the 20th- and 21st-century laws and legal decisions that have shaped LGBTQ rights up to 2015, including changing concepts of permissible marital relationships. Laws and legal decisions that affected LGBTQ rights nationally are included, as well as those specific to Virginia.

Virginia Persons of Note in LGBTQ History: During the summer of 2015, VCU student Emily Buss compiled a list of persons associated with Virginia’s LGBTQ heritage from the 19th century to the early 21st century. A brief biographical note explains each individual’s contributions. A bibliography of sources used to compile this information is provided at the end of the document.

Virginia Places Associated with LGBTQ Heritage: This list combines preliminary research performed by the National Park Service and follow-up research by VCU student Emily Buss focusing on the Richmond area. The list is a work-in-progress with new locations being added periodically.

National Park Service’s LGBTQ Heritage Initiative: In 2014, the National Park Service announced its new LGBTQ Heritage Initiative to explore how the legacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals can be recognized, preserved, and interpreted for future generations. Additional information is available on the National Park Service’s website, including a national heritage theme study, a list of places associated with LGBTQ heritage across the country, and how the public can get involved in this multi-year project.

Posted: 8.21.2015