Pocan renews push to establish national LGBTQ museum

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Pocan renews push to establish national LGBTQ museum

Openly gay Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin introduced two bills on October 27 to create a national museum in Washington D.C. dedicated to U.S. LGBTQI+ history and culture.

A Commission to Establish the Museum

Pocan’s first initiative, launched during the final days of LGBTQ History Month, proposes the creation of an eight-member commission. Their mission? To examine the feasibility of setting up such an establishment in the country’s capital. The commission would also be responsible for developing a strategic funding plan, evaluating available collections and submitting a “legislative plan of action” to Congress. Under the proposal, commission members, who should have experience in LGBTQ research or museum planning, would have 18 months to finalize their study.

The Museum: An Extension of the Smithsonian ?

The second proposal would integrate the museum with the Smithsonian Institution. Currently, both bills have the support of eight co-sponsors, all Democrats and co-chairs of the Congressional Equality Caucus, including openly gay Bronx Representative Ritchie Torres.

The New York Effort

New York is not to be outdone. The city is also planning its own LGBTQ museum. Celebrities and local elected officials celebrated the laying of the foundation stone for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in 2021.Ben Garcia, previously deputy executive director and director of learning at the Ohio History Connection, was named its new executive director in January.

Political context

Mark Pocan originally proposed both bills last September.However, the House of Representatives is currently controlled by the GOP, making the future of these initiatives uncertain.The Need for the MuseumPocan stressed the importance of building a museum of LGBTQ history in the face of increasing attacks on the queer community.With a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the country – 505 in the 2023 legislative session according to the ACLU – it’s essential to preserve and protect our history. Pocan stresses the importance of remembering our collective past, especially in the face of efforts to restrict the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. He envisions this museum as a way to tell these stories and honor the LGBTQI+ community’s many contributions to the nation.

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Recognition and Inclusion

In a shared video, Pocan compared this initiative to other museums created to recognize communities such as African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and, more recently, Asian-Americans. The Congressional Equality Caucus, chaired by Pocan, welcomed the effort, reminding us that LGBTQI+ history is an integral part of American history and deserves to be preserved and shared to foster inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community.

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