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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

LGBTQ+ Rights

Joining the civil rights and women's movements of the twentieth century, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and other related (LGBTQ+) movements emerged to fight against discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals and advocate for civil and legal rights.

Lilli Vincenz, Director & Producer. Gay and Proud. Documentary film, 1970. Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. Library of Congress.

For years, Lilli Vincenz (b. 1937) actively lobbied, demonstrated, and worked on behalf of gay rights. Vincenz was one of the two original lesbian members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. (MSW), the first editor of the MSW's newsletter, and a writer, documentary filmmaker, musician, and longtime certified psychotherapist in Arlington, Virginia. She marched in the historic picket of the White House on April 17, 1965, and in annual July 4th demonstrations in Philadelphia; was part of the delegation to the U.S. Civil Service Commission in 1965 to discuss the government's discrimination against gays; and helped launch Frank Kameny's unprecedented 1971 election bid for the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate to Congress. She was also an early member of the Daughters of Bilitis, a national lesbian rights organization, wrote a biweekly column for the New York-based Gay magazine, and was interviewed often by the media along with other lesbian leaders. From 1971 to 1977, she ran a Gay Women's Open House in her home; served on the National Organization for Women's Sexuality Task Force in 1976; and founded the Empowerment Group for People Living with AIDS in the mid-1980s and the Community for Creative Self-Development (CCSD) in 1998. Vincenz's papers (10,500 items; 1879-2013; bulk 1953-2013) document her family relationships and friendships, her professional career, her activism, and the issues she encountered living as an openly gay woman. Also chronicled is the larger gay rights movement from its nascent beginnings in the early 1960s, which Vincenz helped to capture on both film and in her writings, through the women's liberation movement in the 1970s and the emergence of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Other collections within the Manuscript Division that document LGBTQ+ activism include:

  • The papers of Frank Kameny (56,300 items; 1843-2012; bulk 1957-2010) reflect the politicization of the gay rights movement as its priorities shifted from education and information to social action and legal reform. The collection also documents his activities as co-founder and official of the Mattachine Society of Washington, his involvement in District of Columbia politics, and work as administrative counsel in trials chiefly concerning discrimination in civil service employment, military service discharges, and security clearance issues.
  • The Jan Krc Papers, (2,400 items; 1984-2017; bulk 1984-1994) mostly concern a lawsuit brought in 1984 by Krc, a longtime Foreign Service worker for the United States Information Agency (USIA) and co-founder of the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Service Agencies, against the U.S. government for discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • The papers of Washington, D.C., gay rights activist Paul Kuntzler (1,500 items; 1941-2017; bulk 1959-2017), who has been at the forefront of gay, lesbian, and queer life in the nation’s capital for decades, highlight his activism with the city’s various LGBTQ+ organizations and documents his work on local and national political campaigns notably the 2014 mayoral bid by David Cantania and James P. Zais’s 1992 campaign for Washington, D.C., council member.
  • See the LGBTQ+ Resources in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress guide for additional information on LGBTQ+ collections within the Manuscript Division.

Manuscript Resources Referenced

The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.