GREEN BAY – The more Loschue “Chue” Lo worked on a mural to honor and celebrate northeastern Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community, the more his first public work of art became bigger than he initially realized. A panel of judges selected Lo, a gay man from Oshkosh currently studying art at UW-Green Bay, to paint a 12-foot-tall, 24-foot-wide mural on the side of Napalese Lounge and Grille, Wisconsin’s second-oldest continually operating gay bar.N ap’s, as regulars know it, serves as an LGBTQ+ community center as much as a bar. It has hosted wedding ceremonies, support groups and more since it opened on South Broadway in 1982 and relocated to 1351 Cedar St. in 2000.
…For two years, a UW-Green Bay faculty member and Archives Department staff have spearheaded an effort to collect oral histories, memorabilia, documents, records and photos from northeastern Wisconsin LGBTQ+ residents.
The results of their efforts to date will be on display at The Art Garage, 1400 Cedar St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Students, faculty, archives staff, LGBTQ+ alumni and community volunteers collaborated to create the exhibit.
Our Voices: LGBTQ+ Stories of Northeastern Wisconsin includes a timeline of LGBTQ+ history, details on nightlife, pictures the Archives Department has collected, and pieces of history like a leather poster from the Argonauts Leather Club, which was founded in Green Bay in 1974, said Deb Anderson, of the UW-Green Bay Archives Department.
Students, faculty and staff saw a need to preserve and document a part of northeastern Wisconsin’s history that was disappearing, Anderson said. So far, students have interviewed 20 LGBTQ+ residents, mapped Green Bay bars and researched local LGBTQ+ artists. The UW-Green Bay Archives also has become the official repository for records from support and advocacy groups like Rainbow Over Wisconsin and Positive VOICE.
“LGBTQ+ stories are missing from northeastern Wisconsin’s narrative,” Anderson said. “I’m proud and honored to try to correct that absent voice, for students to see themselves in the history. Now they can see themselves and know that their story is important.”
Our Voices is not a passive display. Attendees will be offered the chance to share their own stories of northeastern Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ culture and community.
“I want people to understand this isn’t a finite one-and-done project. This is a living, ongoing project,” Anderson said. “There are more stories to be told. We want to make sure we are preserving history. We view it as a living archives, not a dusty, attic archives.”