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June 27, 2013



Gerard Koskovich

(415) 641-5364



Summer Queer History Programs to 
Highlight Bears, Beatniks, Civil Rights

San Francisco --  The summer 2013 program series at The GLBT History Museum will include panel discussions on the bear subculture and on the legacy of gay civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, as well as a talk on beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Events take place at the museum at 4127 18th St. in San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 621-1107 or visit  


Panel Discussion

What Is a Bear? Exploring and Defining a Gay Male Subculture 

Wednesday, July 24
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.


What defines a "bear" in gay culture? The creation of a safe space for men whose bodies are larger, hairier or older has roots in the leather and biker cultures that emerged after World War II. In the following decades, a bear culture developed as clubs, bars and a media industry were created to promote an accepting and eroticized view of male bodies outside the conventional gay standard of beauty.

Today's bear culture has an endless list of labels for bodies and styles, from cub and otter to the traditional bear, wolf, black bear and panda. This panel discussion will explore what it has meant to be a bear in the past, how the self-image and media images of bears have changed over time, and how bears are creating a community of inclusion in San Francisco today. Panelists will include Mark Katzenberger, Harry Lit, Desmond Miller, Nick Sabatasso and Dan Taylor. Cosponsored by Bears of San Francisco (BOSF).


Admission: $5.00 (general); $4.00 (BOSF members); $3.00 (California students); free for GLBT Historical Society members.  


History Talk

From Beatniks to Gay Liberation: Allen Ginsberg and Queer San Francisco

Thursday, August 15
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.


What was the world that Allen Ginsberg inhabited in San Francisco in the 1950s? How did the then-lively gay scene in the North Beach neighborhood interact with the rest of the city? And what happened to that scene between Ginsberg's controversial public reading of "Howl" at the Six Gallery in 1955 and the dawn of the era of gay liberation?

By reading passages from biographies and memoirs of Ginsberg, Jack Spicer, Sam Steward, James Broughton and Josť Sarria, as well historical studies, Michael Flanagan will recreate a vibrant world that has disappeared and will tell the story of how bohemian and beat San Francisco blended -- and didn't blend -- into one another. Flanagan is a reference librarian, writer and independent scholar who lives in San Francisco. His talk is cosponsored by the Contemporary Jewish Museum. 


Admission: $5.00 (general); $3.00 (California students); free for GLBT Historical Society members.


Panel Discussion

March on Washington: 50 Years Later -- Where Are We Now? 

Wednesday, August 21
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.   


The Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition presents a panel discussion on civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, a gay man who was a prominent strategist for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Participants also will look at the journey of the African American community over the past half-century and where its stands in the new high-tech economy -- and will address the issues of queer economic status and demographics of today. Founded in 2006, the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition works to end racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia in all their manifestations. 

Admission: $5.00 (general); $3.00 (California students); free for GLBT Historical Society members.




The GLBT History Museum is located at 4127 18th St. in San Francisco's Castro District. Open since January 2011, it is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. Currently featured in the Main Gallery is a long-term exhibition: "Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating San Francisco's GLBT History." The Front Gallery and Corner Gallery spaces present changing exhibitions.

The museum is a project of the GLBT Historical Society, a research center and archives that collects, preserves and interprets the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and the communities that support them. Founded in 1985, the society maintains one of the world's largest collections of GLBT historical materials. For more information, visit



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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following images may be reproduced in conjunction with coverage of the summer program series at The GLBT History Museum.     

Shirtless muscular man with Golden Gate Bridge in background
What Is a Bear? Photograph by Crawford Barton; courtesy of
the GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco).
Poet Allen Ginsberg during a 1984 visit to San Francisco. Photo: Robert Pruzan; courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco).
Bayard Rustin (left), deputy director, and Cleveland Robinson, administrative committee chair, March on Washington (1963); photo courtesy of the Library of Congress:

For high-resolution photographs of The GLBT History Museum, along with captions and credit information, see the following DropBox folder. The photos may be reproduced free of charge in media reports.


Visitors to The GLBT History Museum