MEDIA RELEASE: New Exhibitions Reveal Untold Stories of Queer History

New Exhibitions at GLBT History Museum to Highlight Queer

Asian Pacific Islander Women, Early AIDS Prevention Efforts       

San Francisco — Two new shows opening in September at The GLBT History Museum highlight  evocative untold stories from the recent history of San Francisco. An exhibition in the Front Gallery will trace the emergence of organizing by queer and transgender women in the city’s Asian Pacific Islander communities. In addition, a small, focused exhibit in the museum’s Corner Gallery will focus on the pioneering role of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in promoting safer sex during the early years of the AIDS crisis.  

“For Love and Community: Queer Asian Pacific Islanders Take Action, 1960-1990s” recounts the creation of the Asian Pacific Islander queer women’s and transgender community. Many of its members were born in the city, with deep roots in San Francisco Chinatown. Others moved to the Bay Area as adults, working to build support networks and advocate for change. The exhibition features photographs from these organizers that tell a story of family, community, activism and love, and audio clips from oral history interviews that give voice to a history that has never been heard.  
“API queer women and transfolks have been out and working towards social change in San Francisco since at least the 1960s,” notes curator Amy Sueyoshi. “What’s most incredible is that this movement reflects activism en masse. It’s inspiring to see so many people taking action to make a more compassionate world accepting of difference. In a city of rich legacies from both API and queer communities, this exhibition finally reveals the organizing at their intersection.”   
“For Love and Community” opens Tuesday, September 18, with a public reception from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Many of the women whose stories are told in the exhibition will attend. Partial funding for the exhibition was provided by the Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University. 
“Play Fair! The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Make Sex Safer” sheds light on a modest brochure that broke new ground by launching the gay community’s sex-positive response to the AIDS crisis. Since 1979, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have transformed GLBT politics, activism and volunteerism. One major contribution is the long-running Play Fair campaign, one of the first gay safe-sex initiatives.

In 1982, six sisters produced the initial Play Fair brochure, designed to get the gay community talking about prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections in a language free of judgment and guilt. The first edition came out just as GLBT people began to grapple with what would become the AIDS epidemic. In the 30 years since, the brochure has been updated twice while retaining all its original potency, humor and vitality.

Produced in partnership with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Inc., the “Play Fair!” exhibit will open with a public reception on Friday, September 28, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. The museum is a project of the GLBT Historical Society, a research center and archives founded in 1985 that houses one of the world’s largest collections of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender historical materials.

Admission to the museum is $5.00 general; $3.00 for California students; and free for members. For more information, visit

For more details on “For Love and Community,” download the PDF of the curators statement and exhibition credits by clicking here.

For more information on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Inc., visit the Sisters’ website.

The following photographs may be reproduced in conjunction with coverage of the exhibitions at The GLBT History Museum. The full photo credits given in the captions are required.    

Asian/Pacific Lesbians marching in the 1989 San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade. Photo: Cathy Cade at; courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

Produced by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1982, the “Play Fair!” brochure launched the safer sex movement. Photo courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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