While coastal cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been working hard to preserve pieces of local and national LGBTQ history, less traditional LGBTQ-centric cities have been struggling.
But when a new initiative launches next month in Arizona, queer children growing up in the southwest may finally know what it was like for the generations before them, whether in the urban sprawl of Phoenix or the rural dust of Chandler.
Jeffrey Lazos-Ferns, who spent time during his youth in San Francisco before moving back to Arizona, noticed the stark difference in the amount of active preservation attemtps. "All this stuff is being erased very quickly," he told AZ Central. "We need to begin to preserve our history."
Lazos-Ferns remembers seeing local bars and gathering places as safe spaces for his effeminate adolescent self, and later on as places he could go to learn about healthy sex practices and even AIDS.
After forming the Arizona LGBT+ History Project with other community leaders, Lazos-Ferns is ready to launch next month and begin categorizing sites and relics of Arizona's LGBTQ past in an attempt to preserve them.
"It was tough growing up here, extremely tough," said Lazos-Ferns, "and there were good, decent people in the LGBT community who made a difference in my life." Read the full AZ Central article here.