New Gay and Lesbian Archive and Library
The grand opening of the new home of Stonewall Library & Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was celebrated April 24 and 25 with their first annual Gay and Lesbian Literary Arts Festival. As publisher of Alyson Books, I was invited along with writers Andrew Holleran, Karin Kallmaker, Felice Picano, Linda Villarosa, Paul Lisicky, among others, to speak at free workshops, seminars, panels, and presentations. (Right: Don Weise)
Although this stellar line up of authors is impressive enough, the real star of the event was the new building. Formerly housed in a modest storefront since its founding in 1973, Stonewall now resides in a bright, beautiful space next to the public library and a large park, making it an ideal and accessible destination for LGBT book lovers. Staffed by a two-person team (the warm and welcoming executive director Jack Rutland and development director Chad Thilborger), Stonewall is remarkable for the breadth of its collection -- more than 18,000 books and audio visual materials -- but also for its hospitality.
Upon arrival I was ushered into the immaculate lobby by Stonewall supporter Chuck Ross, who toured me through the archives, where 5,000 professionally cataloged items -- including an extensive pulp fiction collection, unpublished manuscripts and first editions by some of our most noted authors, as well as the original picket signs from the landmark 1965 protest in Philadelphia (see photo above) -- reside and can be viewed by appointment.
Clearly Stonewall holds special meaning for the people of South Florida. For three days I met countless admirers and well-wishers who expressed great pride in having this prestigious organization in their community. And why not? I haven’t seen a better collection of LGBT literature outside of New York. To visit Stonewall in person or online or to make a donation go to www.stonewall-library.org
Among the authors and editors who attended the festival were, left to right, John Cloud, Don Weise, Karin Kallmaker, Andrew Holleran, Jeffrey Beam, Felice Picano, K.G. MacGregor, E. Robert Dunn, Keith Hoffman, Linda Villarosa, and Paul Lisicky.