The National Park Service is leading the effort to learn more about the role gays and lesbians played in American history.
“We do what are called ‘theme studies’ where we take an aspect of American history, we find all the historic places related to that,” said Mike Litterest, of NPS.
NPS took a step closer Tuesday toward identifying the landmarks that help tell the story of the struggle of the LGBT community.
“The project we are working on now is to find sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” Litterest said.
For this theme study, NPS pulled together 18 panelists.
“I'm 66,” panelist Mark Meinke said. “When I was 18 I didn't know anybody who was gay, I didn’t know anything that was gay, I couldn’t go to the library and find a gay history. That's changed.”
The study may seem like an unusual project for NPS.
“Most of what the public knows of the National Park Service are the 401 national parks, but we also have a number of programs that help communities preserve history,” Litterest said.
One of the sites identified in the theme study -- the home of Dr. Frank Kameny, known as the "father of gay activism" – is at 5020 Cathedral Ave. NW. Kameny was someone who could articulate the struggles of the gay community.
“He did something no one else did,” Meinke said. “He said, ‘You’re not going to treat me this way. You cannot keep me from working in the government just because I’m gay. You cannot take away my security clearance. You cannot take away my house.’ He stood up for himself.”
Meinke and others met at the Department of Interior with other government officials Tuesday.