Donations include materials from NBC's Will & Grace, personal effects from transgender tennis player Renee Richards, diplomatic passports from the first openly gay U.S. ambassador and his husband, images gathered by photographers Patsy Lynch and Silvia Ros, gay pride paraphernalia and documents from the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland, and the first transgender flag designed in 1999.
Monica Helms, the designer of the transgender flag, praised the decision. “It tells the world that trans people are part of this country,” Helms told Think Progress. “We deserve to be recognized and our history needs to be displayed like everyone else’s.”
Highlighting America's LGBTQ history helps us celebrate our country's rich heritage, right? Not according to Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council. Perkins, who previously slammed the National Women's History Museum for acknowledging the contributions of Margaret Sanger, is unhappy with the Smithsonian for acknowledging LGBTQ history.
In a September 8th radio commentary posted at the Family Research Council website, Perkins criticized the addition of LGBTQ materials to the National Museum of American History, saying "Is it the Museum of Natural History or Unnatural History?" He called the historical materials "propaganda" funded by taxpayer money before blasting the "LGBT agenda" and its "extremists". (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"This is just another platform for the Left to rewrite history and ignore the destructive side-effects of homosexuality. Students are already bombarded with the LGBT agenda. Do they really need to walk past exhibits treating its extremists as heroes? The Smithsonian may know art, but it should stop trying to frame the culture debate."No, Tony. This isn't "rewriting" history, but restoring history. LGBTQ people have always existed and always played roles in society, but too often, the historical contributions of LGBTQ people have been ignored. Instead of censoring history to fit a right-wing narrative, it is vital that we recognize the presence of LGBTQ people in history.
Predictably, Perkins pathologizes LGBTQ status, chiding the Smithsonian for ignoring the alleged "destructive side-effects" of being gay. In doing so, he ignores history, as mental health experts have long since stopped labeling LGBTQ status as pathological.
Instead of demanding that history conform to right-wing prejudices, Perkins should educate himself on LGBTQ history. Real history, he would discover, is far richer than any Religious Right narrative.