nb_cid nb_clickOther -tt-nb this.style.behavior='url(#default#homepage)';this.setHomePage('http://www.aol.com/?mtmhp=txtlnkusaolp00000051 network-banner-empty mtmhpBanner
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
AOL Favorites

Smithsonian adds LGBT history to museum collection

WASHINGTON (AP) - Hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects documenting the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are being added to the Smithsonian Institution's collection Tuesday, including items from the popular TV show "Will and Grace."

Show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick along with NBC are donating objects to the National Museum of American History. The collection includes original scripts, casting ideas, political memorabilia surrounding the show and the series finale. The network agreed to donate props, including a pill bottle and flask, a sign from "Grace Adler Interior Design" and Will Truman's framed college diploma.

Kohan told The Associated Press the Smithsonian's interest in the show featuring gay principal characters was a validation they never dreamed about when the sitcom began airing in 1998. "Will and Grace" ran through May 2006 depicting four friends both gay and straight, eventually ending with the main characters coupled off with children.

"These particular guests that were invited into people's living rooms happened to be your gay friends," Kohan said. "I don't think people really had the opportunity to have that before, and it served to, I think, make people recognize that your close friends were gay."

"The fact that it's in the American history (museum), maybe we were a part of something that was bigger than we ever imagined," Kohan said.

The donation is part of larger effort to document gay and lesbian history, an area that has not been well understood at the museum. Curators are collecting materials from LGBT political, sports and cultural history objects from Arizona to Maryland.

Some items being donated include the diplomatic passports of Ambassador David Huebner, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador confirmed by the Senate, and his husband; materials from a gay community center in Baltimore; and photography collections from Patsy Lynch and Silvia Ros documenting gay rights activism.

From sports history, the museum will receive a tennis racket from former professional player Renee Richards who won a landmark New York Supreme Court decision for transgender rights after she was denied entry to the U.S. Open in 1975. And the museum will receive the first transgender pride flag from an activist and U.S. Navy veteran.

"There have always been gender non-conforming people in the U.S., and we've made contributions and lived life since the beginning of the country," said Curator Katherine Ott who focuses on sexuality and gender. "It's not talked about and analyzed and understood in the critical ways in which it should be. So for us to build the collection means we can more fully document the history of this country."

"Will and Grace" used comedy to familiarize a mainstream audience with gay culture, said Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers. It was daring and broke ground in the same way "All in the Family" did in the 1970s around issues of bigotry and tolerance, Bowers said.

"We're very interested in how entertainment can act as sort of a buffer to make people think and understand the challenges in American life," he said.

The show creators also donated a letter from Focus on the Family in 2000 objecting to an episode making fun of reparative gay therapy, along with the show's flippant and dismissive written response. The museum wanted to document that as well.

The Smithsonian has previously collected items opposing LGBT rights, including protest signs from the Westboro Baptist Church.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
katydid579 August 19 2014 at 7:26 AM

I imagine the naysayers will eventually start waking up and begin their typical barrage of disparaging diatribes against the LGBT community. But, before that display of hate and bigotry begins, I'd like to be the first to say that this is a very definite and positive step forward for our fellow LGBT American citizens to be recognized and fully ACCEPTED for the many, many contributions they make to our forward thinking society. Congratulations, Smithsonian!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
mamboq7 katydid579 August 19 2014 at 11:24 AM

ur sad

Flag Reply 0 rate up
joseph0958 katydid579 August 19 2014 at 8:39 PM

Just go to an adult bookstore if you're looking for LGBT smut....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
bdgrizcp August 19 2014 at 11:33 AM

The fight for sexual preference equality has been a really strange one. It was not long ago that England was prosecuting and jailing gays in real terms. It seems to have come in waves--but the situation today is decidedly different. Clearly, there will always be jobs where sexual preference is best kept a secret but that list is growing shorter all the time. Kudos to the Smithsonian on this step forward.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
joseph0958 August 19 2014 at 8:37 PM

In other words, the Smithsonian is getting into pornography and raunch....that should boost their attendance....

Flag Reply +1 rate up
yeand August 19 2014 at 8:03 AM


Flag Reply 0 rate up
jacks_sam August 19 2014 at 9:31 AM

We went to Washington 6 years ago and visited the Smithsonian. I would say it was the biggest waste of time we spent but we only stayed 5 minutes. Don't waste your time unless there is something there you have to see.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
4 replies
mamboq7 August 19 2014 at 11:23 AM

what next

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
tombview mamboq7 August 19 2014 at 12:16 PM

Don't look now.... they are EVERYWHERE! LOL

Flag Reply 0 rate up
DUDE August 19 2014 at 1:24 PM


Flag Reply 0 rate up
sharon2032 August 19 2014 at 6:38 PM

I have long believed we should auction off all the Smithsonian artifacts to collectors to pay off the national debt. It is ridiculous the amount of money spent on preserving the items. Google it. It's crazy. In this day and age make a virtual tour and get rid of the stuff don't keep adding to it. Plus, I didn't know we were preserving sexual history. If so shouldn't we preserve all Americans preferences not just one select group? Is other sexual history preserved there? Heteralsexual, famous madams, ***** house memorabilia, artifacts from notorious rapists and child molesters? Just saying...I don't think it is fair to highlight LGBT history without representing other groups as well, good or bad. We should probably just leave sex out of the Smithsonian considering many children go there or at least have a Mature Audience section.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aol~~ 1209600


More From Our Partners