News From The GLBT Historical Society
& The GLBT History Museum

February 2012   

Four Questions for John Raines: Preserving
75 Years of GLBT Life in Sights and Sounds
Volunteer John Raines working with reels of magnetic audiotape.
Volunteer John Raines working with reels of magnetic audiotape at the GLBT Historical Society archives.

The archives of the GLBT Historical Society include extensive recordings of the sights and sounds of GLBT life from the past 75 years -- yet much of this material has been inaccessible due to its fragility and the challenges involved in coverting it to digital formats. Enter John Raines, who formerly worked as a producer and on-air talent in radio and television and who later had a career in software and database design.


John now specializes in preservation and remastering of analog media at his studio in Oakland, Calif. -- and since 2009, he has devoted his volunteer time and skills to identifying, preserving and making digital conversions of the analog recordings at the Historical Society. He recently took a few minutes away from the boxes of open-reel video he's currently working on to give History Happens a peek into this little-known part of the archives.


What's the range of historic audio and video recordings have you discovered in the archives?


We have material ranging from phono records and amateur film from the 1940s to professional videocassettes from the 1990s, and on to CDs and DVDs. Casual recordings, hobbyist efforts, a lot of raw footage from pro and semi-pro productions. Some of the recordings are very personal in nature while others cover landmark events such as the Gay Games. I have encountered eight moving picture formats and six audio formats.

Have you made any particularly surprising finds?


Celebrities do turn up from time to time: Harvey Milk talking about the Castro Street Fair in 1976, raw takes of Sylvester recording a music video, Carol Channing putting together an AIDS PSA, Wayland Flowers and Madame on a gay cruise in 1987. We have the entire collection of raw footage for a documentary on the late African American filmmaker Marlon Riggs. We also have home movies of drag shows in North Beach in the 1950s and early 1960s, as well as coverage of the first International Ms. Leather contest in 1987. Some of the coolest material comes from the 1970s: a radio ad for a gay bathhouse, as well as documentaries on Gay Freedom Day and the early Metropolitan Community Church.

What is the Historical Society doing to make its audio and video holdings more widely available?


Two complete audio collections comprising about 300 hours of material can be searched and downloaded via the Gayback Machine on the Historical Society website. Video is more challenging to distribute due to much higher storage and bandwidth requirements. But every second of everything I've converted can be searched and previewed in the reading room at the archives -- and arrangements can be made for digital copies.

Why is it important to preserve these kinds of materials?   


Firstly because audiovisual media do not have the longevity of paper. Much of our magnetic tape already requires special treatment before it can be played, and in a few more years, it may not be salvageable at all. Secondly our media have the unique property of bringing history to life in sound and moving pictures. This kind of impact is very useful for researchers working on film, TV, radio and multimedia projects -- and is vital to bringing our museum displays and special presentations to life.

February Events Offer Valentine's
Prospects From Romantic to Raunchy


Valentine's Party

Cupid's Back 

Thursday, Feb. 9
8:00 pm - Midnight 

Supperclub San Francisco


Gay, single and in the Bay Area? Then the place to be on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 9, is Cupid's Back, the annual Valentine's party benefiting the GLBT Historical Society and The GLBT History Museum. The event Cupid's Back Valentine: Shirtless Young Man With Wings will feature 400 guys wearing big, heart-shaped name tags to make it easier to mix and mingle. An open bar will offer drinks sponsored by Ketel One Vodka and Don Julio Tequila. 


Started six years ago by host Mark Rhoades, the event has grown from simple beginnings in a private home to its current swanky location at Supperclub San Francisco thanks to support from presenting sponsor PG&E and gold sponsor Banana Republic. San Francisco drag legend Juanita More will serve as co-host, taking over the turntables to get everyone onto the dance floor.  


Cupid's Back is set for 8 p.m. to midnight at Supperclub at 657 Harrison St. in San Francisco. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Buy tickets online at www.cupidsback.kintera.org.

Panel Discussion
The Past, Present and Future of Public Sex
Thursday, Feb. 16
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum

Contributors to the new book Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification and the  Desire to Conform (AK Press) will explore the past, present and future of queer public sex and related themes. Anthology editor Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein will moderate the panel. Admission: $5 to $10 suggested donation. 





GLBT History Museum

Location: 4127 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114

Phone: 415-621-1107

Website: www.glbthistorymuseum.org  


Admission: $5.00 general; $3.00 with California student ID. Free for members. Free for all visitors on the first Wednesday of each month (courtesy of the Bob Ross Foundation). 



Mondays: 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Tuesdays: Closed 

Wednesdays - Saturdays: 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.  

Sundays: Noon - 5:00 p.m.




GLBT Historical Society

Location: 657 Mission St., Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105

Phone: 415-777-5455, ext. 3#

Website: www.glbthistory.org  


Research Hours (by appointment)

Members: Wednesdays - Fridays: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Nonmembers: Fridays: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

                     First & Third Saturdays: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.  























February 9
8:00 p.m. - Midnight


Cupid's Back  

Valentine's Party  

Supperclub SF

February 16
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.


Panel Discussion 

The Past, Present and Future of Public Sex


Illustration of three black women.
February 18
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. 


A Love Supreme   

First Unitarian Church
685 14th St., Oakland

The GLBT Historical cosponsors Interweave's third annual potluck
evening bringing together LGBTQ poets, performers and musicians to
celebrate the women and men of the Harlem Renaissance. Admission: $5 - $20 (no one turned away).More information:


 The GLBT History  

Museum displays a  

wealth of material  

from San Francisco's 

vast queer past.


Joan Jett-Blakk for President poster.


The "Drag: Fashioning  

Our Existence" section  

of "Our Vast Queer Past" features this poster from drag activist Joan Jett-Blakk's 1992  

campaign for president  

of the United States.  

The image featured on  

the poster is by San Francisco photographer Marc Geller



 The GLBT Historical Society is home to one 

of the world's largest 

gay, lesbian, bisexual 

and transgender 

archival collections.


San Francisco queer activist stickers from the early 1990s.   

The Queer Nation Records, Lesbian Avengers San Francisco Chapter Records and
other organizational and personal collections
contain stickers from
queer militant groups
active in Bay Area in
the early 1990s.


Docent-led tours

 of the GLBT HIstory Museum are available 

by appointment. 

For more information, 

contact Aimee Forster, museum operations manager, at 





For in-depth 

information on the 

GLBT Historical Society 

and the GLBT History Museum, visit 

our website.


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For updates on the

museum and archives, follow us on Facebook


 Wikipedia LGBT Logo

 For an overview of 

the goals and history of 

the museum and 

archives, see our entry 

on Wikipedia.


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 For an array of GLBT videos from our archives and programs, see 

our YouTube channel.



 Copyright 2012   

GLBT Historical Society