NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—A walking tour that reveals the untold history of Northampton’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community will take place on Sunday, July 13 at 2:00 p.m., and all are welcome. Offered by the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) as a benefit for its non-profit, the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation (SMEF), Inc., the 3-hour walking tour, Journey Through Lesbian Mecca, will include 50 stops concentrated in a three-mile area in and around downtown Northampton. Many of the locations were sites of organizations and businesses in the 1970s through early 2000s that helped shape the LGBTQ community’s emergence in the area and the city to establish its national reputation as a welcoming place for LGBTQs. The tour will also cover sites as old in history as 1898, as well as spaces owned and operated by LGBTQ people today.
Research to develop the tour was conducted at the Sexual Minorities Archives, a national collection of LGBTQ literature, history, and art located in Northampton; and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College by Elizabeth Kent, M.A. Brandeis University, Smith College alumna, and member of the SMEF, Inc. Board of Directors. Kent and Pat Griffin, Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, LGBT sports activist, and member of the SMEF, Inc. Board of Directors, will guide the walking tour.
“I’m excited about co-leading this amazing LGBT history walking tour of Northampton. There is so much to learn about the rich history of LGBT people here. I look forward to sharing it with others,” stated Griffin. [pullquote]“I’m excited about co-leading this amazing LGBT history walking tour of Northampton. There is so much to learn about the rich history of LGBT people here. I look forward to sharing it with others,” — Pat Griffin[/pullquote]
As author Michael Lowenthal wrote in 1995, “Northampton is something of a lesbian Mecca, to which all dykes must make at least one pilgrimage during their lives.” This walking tour shows how such national attention for Northampton’s lesbian community and its current climate of LGBTQ inclusion can be attributed to a range of largely underground businesses and organizations built here beginning in the 1970s.
Past and present locations with LGBTQ histories will be visited and discussed, such as The Egg, The Common Womon Club, Greasy Gorgon Garage, Ye Rose Tree Inn, Hover House, Womonfyre Books, Pulaski Park, Gala Bar, The Grotto, Green Street Café, Dyke Dorms, and more. Even sites of lesbian graffiti in the city will be covered, and the tour will swing through locations on the Smith College campus, too.
Registration is limited to 30 people. The requested donation is $20 general and $10 for seniors ages 60+, students, and low-income individuals. To reserve your place or for more information, email [email protected] or call 508-369-3711. Tour-goers may pay in advance or on the day of the tour. To learn more, you may also visit the Sexual Minorities Archives on Facebook.
[From a News Release]