NEW Pride Alive celebrates role of rural LGBTQ life at fairgrounds | Green Bay Press-Gazette
GREEN BAY – It might surprise some to learn that, in decades past, Green Bay’s residents were trailblazers for LGBTQ advocacy.
Residents established the first AIDS care center in Wisconsin in the 1980s and recognized same-sex marriage at one of the community’s churches in 1999, well over a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the legality of same-sex marriage.
Those are among the historically significant events that captured the attention of Deb Anderson, director of archives and area research center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Anderson has made being an “archivist evangelist” for the region’s LGBTQ community one of her chief professional missions.
“As an archivist, it is my job to build archives that reflect the community or the people,” Anderson said. “And we need to make sure the voice of people who are not usually heard in a broad context are uplifted, too. There are voices here that need to be heard.”
The UWGB Archives Department formally released the project “Our Voices: LGBTQ+ Stories of Northeastern Wisconsin” in summer 2021 at Green Bay’s Art Garage, but with 30 oral history interviews in the books and 15 more scheduled, archival work is a living and evolving process.
That’s been part of professor Kimberley Reilly’s undertaking since 2017 when she was approached by two undergraduates who craved to learn about the history of their queer elders in the region.
Reilly, who teaches history and women, gender and sexuality studies at UW-Green Bay, first offered an independent study and, after conducting four interviews, realized this project required more mining by completing more oral history interviews, collecting memorabilia and creating the archive.