It was a daunting mission from the start: Bring visibility to a culture that, historically, had to be invisible. But it would be impossible to go through the displays at the GLBT History Museum and not see something that you didn’t see before.
“I hope they will have experienced somewhat of a change and they will be impacted by what they see here,” says Fred Baumer, a docent at the storefront museum on 18th Street. “I’ve seen people leave here in tears, especially people from parts of the country where being LGBT is not accepted.”
The displays are interactive and static, broad and specific, and cover as much of the heavily acronymed community as the 7-Eleven-size space will allow. Visitors tend to be quiet and methodical as they work clockwise through the displays, from San Francisco’s early days of fluid gender roles among the gold miners, past the first lesbian-rights organization, leather culture, “lost gayborhoods,” the AIDS epidemic, and the equality struggles that still remain.