A Marker For Kansas City's Place in LGBT History

Historic Marker to be located at northeast corner of Barney Allis Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.

Fifty years ago, national gay and lesbian civil rights leaders gathered for the first time at a conference to coordinate their efforts and develop strategies for collaboration. Downtown Kansas City – specifically, the State Hotel at 12th and Wyandotte Streets – was the site for this conference, which took place Feb. 19-20, 1966. Participants included the founders of early homophile organizations such as the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis, and ONE Inc.

The meeting led to a number of direct actions, including the first coordinated national protest against discrimination by the federal government against gays and lesbians. On Armed Forces Day, May 21, demonstrations were held in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to protest the exclusion of homosexuals from the military.

Drew Shafer, founder of the Phoenix Society. Image courtesy of GLAMA.

That Kansas City meeting also led to the formation of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), a group that met annually for the next five years to further the cause of gay and lesbian civil rights.

A few Kansas Citians attended the State Hotel meeting, and a month after the gathering, they founded Kansas City’s first gay advocacy organization, the Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom. Led by Drew Shafer, Phoenix had a pivotal role in the work of NACHO, particularly regarding distribution of information among the homophile organizations that were springing up across the country. In its five-year existence, Phoenix also partnered with local health, police and religious organizations to help spread awareness of gay and lesbian causes.

To commemorate these milestones and bring attention to them, the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, in partnership with a committee of community volunteers called LGBT-KC, is installing a historic marker on the northeast corner of Barney Allis Plaza, across from where the State Hotel once stood.

The State Hotel. Photo: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library.

 A number of events  are planned in conjunction with the marker:

2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, Central Library, 10th Street and Baltimore Avenue.

 UMKC history graduate student Kevin Scharlau will lecture on the conference and the Phoenix Society at the Kansas City Public Library as part of its Missouri Valley Speaker Series. Scharlau won the Article of the Year award in 2015 for his published essay on the Phoenix Society from the State Historical Society of Missouri.

6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18,  UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St.

Noted LGBT historian John D’Emilio, emeritus history professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, will present a public lecture titled “Before Stonewall: The First Generation of LGBT Activism.”

5:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the northeast corner of Barney Allis Plaza

An unveiling ceremony will be held at the northeast corner of Barney Allis Plaza, to publicly present the commemorative marker. Kansas City, Mo., City Council members Jolie Justus and Katheryn Shields will speak, and members of the Heartland Men’s Chorus will perform. A post-unveiling reception will be held at the Hotel Phillips, 106 W. 12th St.

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

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less