Looking Back and Forward

Conference overview

Post-Conference Recap

Conference participants submitted a number of recommendations at the close of the sessions.

Tiptoeing through the GLBT Preservation Movement

(PDF) Conference organizer, Gerry Takano's 2011 call to reassess GLBT historic preservation, and news of Will Fellows' and Helen P. Branson's new edition of the 1957 memoirs, Gay Bar.

Looking Back and Forward - Conference Photos

Conference Photos

Photos taken throughout the Conference sessions are now online.

Conference Speakers List

Information on the Conference speakers and brief summaries of topics they presented.

Susan Stryker, Will Fellows

Conference Addresses Preservation of Gay Sites

The Bay Area Reporter article on the Conference

Session Schedule

Looking Back and Forward 2001 Conference Sessions - Activities schedule.

Looking Back & Forward Conference

About the Conference Participants

William Colburn | Will Fellows | Jim Kennedy | Terence Kissack | Robin Levitt
Angie McCarrel | Jim Mitulski | Brenda Beers Mock | Marie Nelson | Gene Peterson | Chris Reed | Paul Reynolds | Jeff Samudio | Ellen Schumer | Damon Scott | Pat Sexton | Susan Stryker | Gerry Takano | Jim Van Buskirk | John Wullbrandt

WILLIAM COLBURN is a historic preservation consultant based in Dearborn, Michigan. He began his involvement in preservation while at Wayne State University as one of the founders of a campus preservation activist group fighting urban renewal policies in Detroit. William has been a board member of the United States Committee/International Council on Monuments and Sites, Preservation Action, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and the Michigan (Saarinen) Chapter/Society of Architectural Historians.

SUBJECT  Mr. Colburn gave an overview of GLBT preservation: Mr. Colburn, active in the international conservation movement, has worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to acknowledge GLBT preservation within the national context, Mr. Colburn elaborated on the role of the GLBT community in the revitalization of urban centers and discussed his preservation experience in Detroit.

WILL FELLOWS is the author of Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest (University of Wisconsin Press) and a forthcoming book entitled Preservation Comrades: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

SUBJECT Mr. Fellows discussed his new book soon to be released, Preservation Comrades: Gay Men and Keepers of Culture:

From large cities to rural communities, gay men have long been visionary pioneers as keepers of culture: rescuing and restoring decrepit buildings, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods, saving artifacts and documents of historical significance. This penchant to preserve has typically been ignored or dismissed as a stereotypical gay cliche, even by gay men themselves. In his forthcoming book, Preservation Comrades, Will Fellows explores this authentic and complex dimension of gay men's lives by profiling early and contemporary preservationists from throughout the U.S. He illumines neglected facets of what it means to be gay, and highlights contributions to the larger culture that gays are uniquely inclined to make.

In this talk, based on the five years of research and writing that have gone into creating Preservation Comrades, Fellows will present an overview and summary of his findings and his analysis of them. His observations will be illustrated with material drawn from the lives of preservation-minded gay men from around the U.S, and will show these individuals' relationship to culture-keeping queer men, past and present, in societies worldwide.

JIM KENNEDY is a graduate of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Jim created and performed a one-person extended show on Harvey Milk at the SF Castro's Josie's Cabaret.

SUBJECT  Mr. Kennedy provided a live playing of tapes from some of Harvey Milk's speeches as well as supplementary commentary throughout the tour of City Hall.

TERENCE KISSACK is Programs Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society of Northern California and managing editor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality. He is currently researching the politics of homosexuality in the U.S. anarchist movement, 1880 - 1920.

ROBIN LEVITT is a San Francisco-based architect. Also a community activist, he was co-chair of three electoral campaigns to remove the Central Freewayand build Octavia Boulevard. He is on the Board of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.

ANGIE McCARREL is a founding member of the Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project, an all-volunteer non-profit founded in 1994. She is completing her Masters of Urban Design and Planning with a certificate in Preservation Planning at the University of Washington. She holds a B.A. in history from Kalamazoo College. Angie works for Seattle-based Impact Capital/LISC as a community development/affordable housing lender.

SUBJECT  Ms. McCarrel discussed GLBT projects in the Pacific Northwest, and particularly Seattle.

JIM MITULSKI has pastored gay churches in New York's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Castro District for the past twenty years. He has been an advocate for the homeless and was instrumental in providing winter shelters in the Castro and Noe Valley for queer homeless youth. He is GLBT Outreach Coordinator for the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library.

SUBJECT  Queer Spaces and Spirituality

BRENDA BEERS MOCK, ASID, CID,has been the principal in her interior design firm for fourteen years. She is a past president of he American Society of Interior Designers California North chapter and has completed projects in several states. She is currently working on the restoration of a William Wurster home in Portola Valley and a Bernard Maybeck bungalow in Berkeley. Ms. Mock has also been on the faculty of the Academy of Art and the University of California Extension.

MARIE NELSON is a staff member of the State Historical Preservation Office in Sacramento. She specializes in the documentation and interpretation of cultural resources.

SUBJECT Ms. Nelson discussed SHPO documentation and interpretation of cultural resources. Some of her suggestions for GLBT activists and organizations:

bullet1.gifDevelop context for GLBT history, events and places aheaof the reviewing agency. Think about patterns of events as well as important persons.

bullet1.gifTie GLBT history into a larger historical context that is more familiar to the agency gatekeepers.

bullet1.gifSeek multiple property nominations for sites and historical events.

Establish a relationship with the agency gatekeepers beyond any single issue or nomination.

bullet1.gifRecognize that the California Register permits more latitude than the National Register (CA Register not specifically bound by the 50 year rule).

GENE PETERSON is a licensed contractor in the State of California and has constructed new residences and restored numerous San Francisco Victorians.

CHRIS REED'S research is focused on the making of a gay commercial district in Chicago. Chris is an associate professor and chair of the Art Department at Lake Forest College, Illinois.

PAUL REYNOLDS is a homeowner in the Bernal Heights district of San Francisco.

JEFF SAMUDIO is a principal at Design Aid Architects, a firm involved in the rehabilitation and restoration of registered landmarks, planning for historic districts, and cultural resource management. Jeff is the producer and editor of the "Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites Map." In addition to his duties as a State of California Historic Resources Commissioner, Jeff is also co-author of a new book on Los Angeles.

SUBJECT  Discussed the LA GLBT Historic Sites Map project. Some of his other points:

bullet1.gifLocal groups must act locally to collect and present history and catalogue important sites.

bullet1.gifUse the local importance of sites and the larger context of the national GLBT movement as a springboard for national recognition of local sites.

bullet1.gifRecognize that the preservation establishment has been slow to embrace and recognize GLBT sites and the ways in which existing landmarks have GLBT historic significance.

ELLEN SCHUMER is the most requested docent on the San Francisco City Hall tour program.

SUBJECT  Tour of City Hall with perspective on Harvey Milk

DAMON SCOTT is pursuing a doctoral degree in cultural geography, with particular interest in the imprint of culture on urban landscapes and the role of place in empowering marginalized groups. His dissertation centers on the differentiation of gay and lesbian residential and commercial spaces in post-World War II San Francisco.

SUBJECT  The Rise and Fall of Gay San Francisco?

Based on historical data collected by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society of Northern California, the number of queer-oriented establishments in San Francisco has been declining since the early 1980s. Viewed spatially and temporally, this data suggests several additional trends in the patterning of queer space within San Francisco:

(1) since the early 1960s, there has been an increase in the number of queer neighborhoods;

(2) since the early 1930s, the Tenderloin district has consistently had a sizeable queer presence despite being eclipsed in the media by higher visibility neighborhoods such as the Castro and the Polk; and

(3) lesbian-oriented businesses in the Mission district have shown a marked decline since the late 1980s.

These observations suggest several possible factors influencing the number and distribution of queer marked spaces within the city:

(1) high mortality rates among gay men attributed to AIDS;

(2) rising rents pricing existing and potential queer residents out of the city; and

(3) lower gay immigration rates to San Francisco as queer spaces have proliferated in other parts of the country. The data presented here is an initial attempt to explore how gays and lesbians have sorted themselves out spatially within the city as well as to examine the historical significance of San Francisco as a "gay mecca".

PAT SEXTON is a library/information broker in Honolulu, Hawaii.

SUSAN STRYKER is Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society of Northern California. Susan received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California at Berkeley and is co-author, with Jim Van Buskirk of Gay By the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, 1996). efforts are welcome either at the door or by mail.

SUBJECT  Ms. Stryker gave a colorful and eventful tour of the significant sites in the Tenderloin, Polk & other SF districts, and gave an overview of the work and collection of the GLBT Historical Society in its offices on Market Street. She also discussed her research on the Transsexual subculture of the 1950's and 60's and it's sites around the Tenderloin.

GERRY TAKANO is president of TBA West, a planning and architectural firm affiliated with Boston's TBA Architects. In addition to the Friends of 1800, Gerry is a Board member of the National Japanese American Historical Society and the Fort Point & Presidio Historical Association.

SUBJECT  Mr. Takano presented a talk 'The Loss of Institutional Memory: Case Study of Queen Surf and the Kuhio District'. He discussed the radical change in Honolulu's gay neighborhood noting that it has been little appreciated both in the past and in the present. He demonstrated the systematic eradication of specific locations frequented by gays, even though no known official policy targeted gays. From his research he concluded that GLBT activists and organizations must be cognizant of both overt and covert assaults on GLBT representation in and use of built environment.

JIM VAN BUSKIRK is the Director of the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library and co-author, with Susan Stryker, of Gay By the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, 1996).

JOHN WULLBRANDT is an artist with projects in Hawaii, California and beyond. John resided in the Fallon Building and was instrumental in saving the site from demolition.

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