25 Years Later, a Banner Returns to Kansas City

One of the photos of the banner from the collection donated to GLAMA by David Helton.

The Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC is keenly aware of the importance of this season of giving – indeed, it is through gifts that the archive has been able to grow and preserve Kansas City’s LGBT heritage for nearly 10 years. Recently, we received a donation that was so thrilling and so unexpected it deserved to be shared.

On a blustery Friday in November, former Kansas Citian Ardie Viet made the journey to GLAMA from northwestern Iowa. Viet lived in Kansas City in the 1980s and ’90s and was active in the LGBT community during that time. On her visit, she was accompanied by longtime friend and KC activist Jon Barnett, who explained that “it was rare to go to an event and see Ardie without her camera,” so, naturally, the collection of items she donated included hundreds of snapshots from that period.

The most intriguing portion of her donation, though, was what appeared to be a tightly wound hot-pink poster with a turquoise blue border. Viet unrolled it to its full 13-foot length, revealing it to be the banner that identified the Kansas City contingent who participated in the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.

1993 was a particularly challenging time for the LGBT community. The previous year, the state of Colorado passed Amendment 2, which codified in the state’s constitution the prohibition of laws that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation. President Bill Clinton introduced the policy that became known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which forced gay, lesbian, and bisexual military personnel into the closet, despite Clinton’s campaign promise that they would be allowed to serve openly. During that year, nearly 79,000 Americans were diagnosed with AIDS; of that number, more than 45,000 died, an average of 3,750 individuals each month.

It is easy then to understand why LGBT protesters would again take to the streets of the nation’s capital (previous marches had been held in 1979 and 1987). The march occurred on April 25, and it was preceded by two days of related events: historical exhibits, religious services, political workshops, and candlelight vigils. The day before the march, a demonstration for same-sex marriage drew about 1,500 participants outside the National Museum of Natural History.

The primary focus of the weekend, though, was the march. An estimated 1,000 Kansas Citians participated, and the total crowd estimates ranged up to one million people. Starting at the Washington Monument and making its way to the U.S. Capitol Building, the march lasted over six hours. Those at the end of the line had to wait a full five hours before they began moving. Rhonda Weimer of Kansas City was quoted as saying “this is the experience of a lifetime for a lesbian.” Camp publisher and editorial director John Long, recalled his experience at the next march in 2000:

Camp co-founders John Long and Jim Gabel at the 2000 March on Washington.

That one weekend felt like gays owned Washington, D.C. We were everywhere. It felt so empowering. It felt like we were the majority instead of the minority that weekend. The Metro trains were packed with gay people. I was on one of the trains with my partner, Jim Gabel, and it was nearly 100 percent gay. Some tourists from Europe boarded the train with their local host, and I heard them say to him, “Is this normal?” when looking at the packed train car of gay people, and some gay guy overheard them and said, “Honey, there ain’t nothing about this train that is normal.”

Given the importance of this event in American LGBT history, it is easy to imagine our thrill at being given the banner that identified the Kansas City marchers. What’s even more poignantly unique about the piece is that it is covered in autographs from march participants and well-wishers who couldn’t attend. From prominent political activists to a Marine Corps sergeant (“Free the Military!”), from a member of the Gay & Lesbian Association of Nigeria to “Nasty Sally Seersucker,” from messages of hope and unity to a memoriam remembering six men no longer alive, the array of signatures and annotations tangibly convey the empowerment and hope that the march represented.

It is fitting that the donation be made this year, the 25th anniversary of the 1993 March on Washington. Viet, the donor, noted that she had been holding on to the banner all this time “until I found the right home for it.” GLAMA is deeply honored and genuinely humbled by her decision to entrust this artifact to us, ensuring it will be on hand for future Kansas Citians to admire, to reflect upon, and to draw inspiration from.

If You Go:

The banner from the 1993 march, along with other artifacts, can be seen at the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (https://goo.gl/YMRRDz) at UMKC. LaBudde Special Collections, which includes GLAMA, is on the third floor of UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library.

Stuart Hinds is the assistant dean for special collections and archives at the Miller Nichols Library at UMKC and the curator of the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

2023 Reserva de la Familia Limited Edition Terceerunquinto

On January 10, 2023, Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo’s ultra-premium collection of artisanal small-batch tequilas and Mexico’s crown jewel, announced its 2023 collector’s box, designed by artists Rolando Flores and Gabriel Cázares of the Mexico-based Tercerunquinto Collective. The piece of custom art, titled “Structuring a Landscape”, features a geometric abstraction of the landscape of Tequila, Mexico and will adorn the 2023 limited-release collector’s box of Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo.

Since 1995, Jose Cuervo has worked with internationally recognized artists with roots in Mexico to design the box artwork for Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo. Each box is an authentic collector’s item, with a limited quantity produced annually before a new artist is chosen. Previous artists include Gonzalo Lebrija, Pedro Friedeberg, Carlos Aguirre, Ricardo Pinto and many more. Every artist is selected by a team of art curators including 11th generation Cuervo family member and CEO of Jose Cuervo, Juan Domingo Beckmann, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio in New York City, Patrick Charpenel and founder of Zona Maco, Mexico’s number one art fair, Zélika García.

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Velvet Ibiza

Velvet Ibiza

Every year, Ibiza is home to Europe’s very epic queer woman’s party, Velvet Ibiza, which is celebrating its 7th anniversary and promises to be next level. Velvet Ibiza is an all-inclusive 5-day and 5-night party and includes transportation from the airport, a bungalow, 3 meals, and activities and parties day and night, and drinks until around 10:30 pm.

This year, international crowds of LGBTQ+ women will be attending Velvet Ibiza on May 2 - 7 to celebrate life, belonging, and freedom. Event organizers have rented an entire resort in order to build a community vibe and allow queer women to connect so there’s no reason to go anywhere unless of course, you want to go shopping, head to the beach, or explore the island.

Keep reading Show less

Financial Planning for the LGBTQ+ community

The new year has arrived. For many people, that means making resolutions and thinking of ways they can do better in the coming year and beyond. Money management and financial planning are often very popular resolutions and goals, but most financial advice tends to be aimed at heterosexual couples who want to grow their family and raise children.

But, what if your life goals are different? What if you don’t receive the same protection under the current laws as hetero couples?
What if you don’t want to have kids?

Keep reading Show less