Officially, Stonewall Library & Archives is “the largest
independent circulating library of gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender materials in the US.”  That’s
both positive and negative.  The positive is that it’s a
distinction that sets it apart from other GLBT research
organizations, like Center One in Los Angeles or the
James Hormel Center at the San Francisco Public
Library.  But it’s negative because it means more than
90 percent of Stonewall’s funding is privately raised.  
Only a minor percentage – a shrinking percentage,
actually – comes from Broward County.

The County and the City of Fort Lauderdale, however,
are responsible for Stonewall’s move to its new
facility, which is located in the ArtServe library
building on Sunrise Boulevard, one of the city’s major
thoroughfares.  (Chances are after the opening it will be known as the Stonewall Library
building.)  The timing of the City Commission’s vote to support SLA’s move into the
building was unfortunate, as it was swept up in the anti-gay hysteria fueled by Fort
Lauderdale’s former mayor, Jim Naugle, and his crusade against rampant gay public
bathroom sex (which was nonexistent, according to police statistics).  

But that’s all water under one of the city many drawbridges.  That vote was two years
ago, Naugle is out of office, and Stonewall Library & Archives’ successful capital
campaign helped get it into the new building and focus its future on the national stage.  
The day after the official opening, SLA hosts its annual Gay and
www.ambiente.us  APRIL | ABRIL 2009

Stonewall Library Isn’t Just the “Gay Library”
– It’s Our Future and Our Past
By Stephen Gaskill

Anita Bryant is making her way through Florida again.  But this time, she’s not wreaking
havoc on gays and lesbians.  Instead, she’s a history lesson, the subject of a well-
received exhibit entitled Days Without Sunshine: Anita Bryant’s Anti-Gay Crusade.  It’s
just one of many exhibits touring nationally courtesy of Stonewall Library & Archives, a
South Florida-based GLBT library that’s about to step into the national spotlight.  

Stonewall Library & Archives (SLA) is an impressive research facility, cultural center, art
gallery and official recorder of gay and lesbian life in the past 60 years.  It’s been
around for 35 years, but this month SLA officially opens the doors on its beautiful brand
new facility in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  The theme of the opening event, “Our Place,”
is modest, given the stakes: SLA demonstrates that it truly is a national and regional
treasure, cataloguing the GLBT experience through books, paintings, posters,
paraphernalia, and a climate-controlled, appointment-only archives area that would
make the Smithsonian blush.
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Lesbian Literary Arts Festival, featuring
prominent GLBT authors like Felice Picano and
Andrew Holleran, among 27 other prominent
GLBT authors   It’s just one of the numerous
events Stonewall hosts; in fact, SLA hosts an
average of 30 events every month.  It’s a
mindboggling task for the small, dedicated
staff.

“We function in different ways for our
community,” said Jack Rutland, executive
director of SLA.  “We’re a lending library, with
a large catalogue of reading materials, just like any other library.  But we’re also a
cultural center and meeting space.  On any given day we have researchers working in
the archives while there’s an art opening underway in the front hall.  And then the next
day award-winning writers are lecturing.  We meet a wide spectrum of needs, and that
sets us apart from other facilities with a GLBT focus.”

Stonewall Library & Archives tells the story of how GLBT Americans lived in the past
through touring exhibitions like Out of the Shadows: Gay America from Kinsey to
Stonewall.  Among SLA’s priceless holdings are original posters from the historic Frank
Kameny protests in Philadelphia and Washington in the 1960s, original documents
from the founding of the Mattachine Society, and rare gay and lesbian magazines that
were usually quickly destroyed as soon as they were published. The legendary Edmund
White, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, was the guest of honor at a
dinner at the Library earlier this year.

“We have one foot in the past and one moving toward the future, and that’s what makes
Stonewall Library unique,” Rutland said.  “Whatever we’re doing – whether it’s a photo
exhibit or a lecture – people know we’re a reflection of GLBT life.  That’s our mission,
and holding up a mirror to that is what we’re all about.”
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Stonewall Library & Archives, located at 1300 East Sunrise Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale,
officially dedicates its new space on April 23. SLA accepts contributions of books,
records, and artwork to tell the collective GLBT history.  They’ll also take your checks,
which are tax deductible.  More information can be found at
www.stonewall-library.org.





















CLICK HERE for more by Stephen Gaskill

Copyright 2009| Ambiente.  Do not reproduce without prior authorization.
Gay & Lesbian Literary Arts Festival
Ft. Lauderdale | April 24-25, 2009