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Sarah Emma Edmonds

Welcome to the Michigan's LGBT Heritage exhibit. In this exhibit you will learn about a number of places, people, and events which have contributed to over 100 years of LGBT activism and visibility all across the state of Michigan. 

The images and information presented here are based on a physical exhibit which was displayed in the University of Michigan's Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library in 1999. This physical exhibit was soon after moved to an online space at: In an effort to guarantee a more stable and long-term digital existence, this exhibit has now been moved over to this platform.

Navigation of this exhibit is based on a timeline approach, however, images can also be viewed via subject (tags) by clicking on individual images within a given time period. Although this exhibit focuses primarily on the second half of the 20th century, images date back as far as 1860. 

Click on the Credits page to get more information about the original exhibit and curators.


Curated by Beth Strickland, Women's Studies & LGBTQ Studies Librarian

Before 1950

The photographs in this section are from the mid-late 19th century and early 20th century. The individuals presented here, or referenced to here, were either known homosexuals of the time (otherwise known during the period as "deviant" or "preverted") or depict an understanding of how gay and lesbian life might have been lived during an earlier time. 


The images in this section provide a glimpse into gay and lesbian life in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Flint during the 1950s. The event timeline highlights a number of ways that the gay and lesbian community started to gain some mainstream visibility.


The 1960s were a time of political change in the LGBT community and ultimately lead to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in NYC. As shown in this part of the exhibit, there was a burgeoning LGBT publication market, as well as an increase in public awareness of gay and lesbian groups. Other facts about Michigan's gay and lesbian life of the time are included in this section.


Gay and lesbian activism really started to take off around the state during the 1970s. Gay pride events started gaining traction around the state as did many forms of activism. These activities, along with the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM in 1973, worked as a way to gain visibility for the community and to fight publically againist many forms of social and legal discrimination.


The 1980s were a time of great struggle for the LGBT community. With the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, an increase in the number of discriminatory laws against gay and lesbian groups, and with a noticable politcal backlash against the community, this decade marks a time of significant challenges for the LGBT movement.


This number of gay pride parades and events around the nation really began to take off in the 1990s. With LGBT visibility at record breaking numbers, the country begins to witness more public acts of violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians. The 1990s also demarcates political and ideological differences within the LGBT community itself.

About This Exhibit

Thank you to the original curators and developers of the Michigan's LGBT Heritage exhibit. These people include:

Tim Retzloff, Julie Herrada, Matthew Bietz, and Anthony Hand.

According to the original Michigan's LGBT Heritage website (1999):

"The exhibit, "Artifacts & Disclosures: Michigan's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Heritage" represents the convergence of two dynamics: a desire of the Lavender Information and LIbrary Association to stage an exhibit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and the wish of the curators to assemble and share some wondrous artifacts which disclose an aspect of the state's history that has just begun to be revealed.

Drawing fragmentary evidence from repositories both local and national, we attempted to create a sort of giant scrapbook of Michigan LGBT life modeled after the pioneering 1994 New York Public LIbrary exhibit, "Becoming Visible: The Legacy of Stonewall." We hope we succeeded in documenting the diversity, complexity, and longevity of our various communities."