Jim Andris, Facebook
Home Page GLBT History in St. Louis
For 33 years I was a professor of education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. For 30 years of that professional life, I worked steadily as an out gay professor for the cause of lesbian and gay rights—as well as for women's and minority rights. After I retired, I realized that I had a lot of historically significant memories, stories and materials, and some of these might actually be worth preserving. So I have started small, a year here, a progressive cause there, and I have put up primarily pictures, information and stories of gay rights—"gay" in its original generic sense. I suppose the current correct term is "queer." The mean kids on my block in my childhood did not call me "gay," they called me "queer," and they meant to hurt me. I fought back then, and I am still fighting back now.
In 2010, however, I encountered the St. Louis LGBT History Project. Ian Darnell was leading an LGBT history tour of the Central West End, and I decided to go on the tour. The short story is that meeting Ian and many of the rest of the researchers there—including Colin Murphy, Senior Editor for the Vital Voice and Steve Brawley, who founded the project—reinvigorated my desire to preserve my own past memories and refocused me on uncovering crucial aspects of St. Louis' LGBT community history.
In particular, I had been a participant in the 1980 Celebration of Lesbian and Gay Pride held during the week of Apr. 12-20, 1980. I had a special access to that past event through saved documents and maintained and renewed connections with old friends. And I had my sometimes vividly recalled experience. I discovered that the story that was being told of this event with some confidence was incomplete, and to some degree, inaccurate. I was especially dismayed that some of my dear, deserving friends had simply not made it into the story. I became determined to tell the story with greater clarity, completeness and accuracy, and particularly focusing on the roots of that Pride celebration during the 1970s. That is now the main goal of this website.