Stories from LGBT Older Adults in the Lehigh Valley

Reflections Upon Regional Activism from Gay Liberation, AIDS Activism, and Marriage Equality

The collaborative team behind this collection included the director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center (Adrian Shanker), archivists from Muhlenberg College (Susan Falciani Maldonado and Kristen Leipert), and faculty from Lehigh University, Cedar Crest College, and Moravian College (Mary Foltz, Pete Nagy, and Carol Moeller). All team members supported recruiting participants and preparing for interviews. Foltz was the primary interviewer for the first round of collection; Maldonado and Leipert processed oral histories for the archives. Our team was inspired to collect life stories from elders as we believe that personal accounts of regional LGBT political and social organizations are important to understanding our community's history and contributions to the Lehigh Valley.

Our team collected ten oral histories from LGBT elders in the Lehigh Valley. Our aim was to interview leaders of transformative social and political organizations that worked to support LGBT people and to advocate for equity in our region. We recorded life stories of activists from major regional organizations, including Le-Hi-Ho (1969-1990s), MCCLV, Pennsylvania/Lehigh Valley Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1994-1997), Pennsylvania League of Gay and Lesbian Voters, PA-GALA (1997-2005), the Lehigh Valley chapter of the National Organization for Women, Pennsylvania Diversity Network (2004-2009), and Eastern PA PFLAG (early 1990s -present). While our narrators discuss these organizations, they also share personal stories about their lives. Narrators frequently discuss their families of origin, their experiences in educational systems, and their awakenings to the challenges facing LGBT people in their communities, regions, and larger nation. Each interview is a valuable contribution to a stronger understanding of forms of discrimination faced by LGBT people in the Lehigh Valley and the vibrant activist work to address such discrimination from the 1960s through the present.

This collection also appears in the Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive, a program of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.

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