In 1969, several bars with mostly gay and lesbian clientele were closed because ABC laws prohibited the sales of alcohol to known homosexual.
According to Cindy Bray who has been documenting Richmond’s LGBT history through OutHistory.org, this law stayed on the books until the early 1990s.
“We need to recognize that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the past,” she said. ”It gives us perspective that we have come a long way.”
Bray is Program Director at the Gay Community Center of Richmond and took second place for her “Rainbow Richmond” exhibit in the website’s local history’s contest. Bray worked closely with area residents and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Archive to document Richmond’s LGBT past.
After reading Beth Marschak’s book “Gay & Lesbian Richmond,” Bray decided the contest would be an excellent opportunity to go more in-depth. Bray spoke with Marschak and others to gain perspective and reviewed old copies of out-of-print publications like Our Own and The Gayzette from the VCU Archive.
She hopes to continue building the story through the website and collect more information on Richmond’s sexual minority community of color, drag families, and trans communities. She plans to fill in the gaps before the Internet era when Richmond did not have an active LGBT publication with oral histories from locals.
“It’s hard to imagine sometimes what it was like in the 60s and 70s,” Bray says. ”I know I benefit from their work by the fact that I actually work at the Gay Community Center and that I live openly. We wouldn’t be able to do this if people before us hadn’t demanded to be recognized.”