Father Tony

Stonewall Library and Archives - a Must-See for all Fort Lauderdale visitors

Filed By Father Tony | April 24, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay Fort Lauderdale, gay history, Stonewall Library and Archives

On Thursday, April 22, 2009, at the invitation of its Board of Directors, I attended the Donors' Reception celebrating the grand reopening of the Stonewall Library and Archives in their beautifully renovated digs at 1300 East Sunrise Blvd in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Can there be any room for yet another jewel in the crown of convenience that is Sunrise Blvd? I truly never leave it when I'm down here. It contains my condo, my beach, my 200 acre park in which I skate, my Starbucks, my Publix supermarket, my gym and even my private "club". And now this. Forty-two hundred square feet of well organized and preserved gay ephemera from the last several decades. Gay t shirts, gay demonstration and event pins and posters, boxes of original gay art donated by collectors and by the estates of those artists, a gallery of contemporary gay artwork, movies, books, tapes and much more. (Actually, the library has been in existence for 34 years. Its space is newly expanded and renovated.)

Did you think that the Stonewall Library and Archives might be like the smoking room of nineteenth century gentlemen swapping dirty Parisian postcards printed with the Baron Von Gloeden photos of Sicilian boys? It is the exact opposite. This is a brightly lit, state-of-the-art research facility staffed by expert archivists (one of whom had a career at the New York Public Library).

Pics, video and more after the jump.

The amazing and edifying aspect of the Stonewall Library and Archives is the fact that this immense and meticulously managed collection of material, much of which would be labeled by many as gay porn is partially supported with public funds and is located in public space.

When you watch my video, you will understand, as Executive Director Jack Rutland and the archivists explain, how visiting this library is not a prurient experience but rather a cultural/historical one.

Gay visitors to Fort Lauderdale should not miss this. But be forewarned. Once you pass through the doors of the Stonewall Library and Archives, any impression you had of Fort Lauderdale as a brain-dead beach-and-bar town will be forever erased. On this, my first visit, I finally found myself able to enter our gay history not whitewashed and censored but rather with our sexuality intact. This library has incredibly big balls and the brain to match. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the men and women who have fought to establish, defend and grow this superb public facility. I'll be back often.

A word of caution, approximately three seconds of the video contain a review of some print elements from the archives that might be considered NSFW.

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