Central PA's LGBT News Source

Book underway on region’s LGBT Community

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Historian and writer William Burton of Philadelphia is teaming up with Barry Loveland, chair of the LGBT Center of Central PA History Project, to write the history of central Pennsylvania’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The authors have received an advance publishing contract from The Penn State University Press.

Currently titled "Out in the Hinterland: Creating a LGBT Community in Rural Pennsylvania," the book will tell the history of this community through the stories of LGBT people in central Pennsylvania who struggled to come out of the closet, faced harassment and discrimination, managed to find other LGBT people and forge friendships, relationships and families, created organizations, networks, and a community infrastructure, started businesses and careers and achieved success in this conservative rural part of Pennsylvania.

“There is virtually no book out there like this,” says Burton. “There are many historical accounts of LGBT communities and the movement for LGBT civil rights in large urban areas like Philadelphia, but few works that cover the rural gay experience. Of those, nearly all deal more with personal accounts of coming out; they do not address the creation of a vibrant gay community arising out of the rural expanses between major metropolitan areas.”

The book will draw on the accumulated collections of the five-year old LGBT Center of Central PA History Project which has completed interviews with 105 individuals and collected more than 70 linear feet of documents, photographs and artifacts. This collection, housed in the Archives and Special Collections at Dickinson College in Carlisle, plus other repositories will provide the sources for research into the information and stories of local history.

The book chronicles the evolution in the region’s community from the 1940’s through present day, from the creation of the first gay and mixed bars to the appearance of the early gay pioneer activists, to the creation of the first gay organizations and ending with a well-developed community infrastructure.

Included with the historical narrative will be sections of the book called “Voices,” which will contain passages taken from some of the oral history recordings telling compelling stories by LGBT people in their own words. The book will also be illustrated with more than 60 images including historical photographs and images of artifacts and documents in the collection that help visually tell the history of the community.

"The Penn State University Press is excited to partner with Bill Burton and Barry Loveland on this exciting project, and to help bring this important and unique piece of LGBT and Pennsylvania history into wider view,” according to Kathryn Yahner, Acquisitions Editor. “The LGBT story in Central Pennsylvania is not only fascinating, powerful, and unexpected, but also full of voices that enrich our understanding of the past and help us look to the future. I’m looking forward to working with the authors to make this book a reality," Yahner added.

“This is one more step in the vision we have for this LGBT History Project,” says project chair and founder Loveland. “We have much more history to document and we hope to use new and innovative ways to present more of this history in the future such as through digital exhibits and video documentaries on the web,” he added. Nearly 100 people are on the waiting list to be interviewed for an oral history recording and new acquisitions of documents and artifacts are being added to the collection all the time.

“The LGBT Center is very excited about this latest development in our award winning History Project,” said Louie Marven, center executive director. The authors have declined any compensation for their work so all the proceeds and royalties from sales of the book will go to support the center and its History Project. “This donation of the royalties on a book about our community’s history is a wonderful investment in our community’s future,” added Marven.

The anticipated release date for the book is spring of 2019. Dr. Lonna Malmsheimer, professor emerita of American Studies at Dickinson College is advising the authors, and Michael J. O’Malley, Jr., retired former editor at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is rounding out the author team with editing services.