Monday, June 1, 2015

For LGBT Pride Month, an Invaluable Resource Tool About Deceased LGBT People

Happy Pride!

June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Pride Month.  Pride parades began as annual memorials to the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 28, 1969.  The Stonewall Riots were a response to police crackdowns on gay bars, specifically the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

So in celebration of LGBT Pride, I am offering an unusual database resource.  My wife, Cynthia Laird, is the news editor of the Bay Area Reporter, the premiere LGBT newspaper of San Francisco, and she brought this one to my attention.

Until very recently, most families were embarrassed by their LGBT members, and they removed any information from obituaries about the most important people and activities of their loved ones' lives.

So starting in 1972, the BAR has printed obituaries for thousands of LGBT people in the San Francisco Bay area (and some from beyond the area, if prominent or with ties to the San Francisco LGBT community).  During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s alone, hundreds of gay men died and are remembered in the BAR.  For many of these people, the BAR obituary is the only remaining record of their true lives.

The LGBT Historical Society and the BAR have an amazing resource: an online database of every BAR obituary searchable by name and date of obituary. The search returns a jpg image of the original obituary or news story about their death. Many contain photographs.

For those of us who research our collateral lines to try to identify cousins, this could be an invaluable resource about people who otherwise would go undetected in normal newspaper searches.