The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center is currently hosting a free public exhibition on LGBTQ members of the African-American community in the commonwealth from UK Libraries' Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). The public may view “A Pictorial History of African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Persons in Kentucky” through October 17, at the center located at 300 E. Third St.
This exhibition's images tell a brief story of the life and work of Kentucky's African-American LGBTQ community starting with the 1909 successful appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals from Caldwell County Circuit Court in the case Commonwealth v. Poindexter. It is believed to be the earliest case of African Americans challenging the sodomy law in Kentucky.
There are also images of the “Negro Review,” local entertainment shows held at Woodland Park Auditorium during the 1930s with an all-male cast in drag. In addition, there are images of the drag shows held at the Lyric Theater in 1960, followed by images of the entertainers being arrested and taken to jail. Drag shows were illegal in 1960.
More contemporary images in this exhibition feature Angela Davis’ visit to UK; Djuan Trent, 2010 Miss Kentucky; and the local LGBTQ organization Bluegrass Black Pride.
This is the third showing of “A Pictorial History: African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Persons in Kentucky.” The first version of the exhibit was displayed in the SCRC at UK during 2015 Black History Month. Thanks to the leadership and interest of Bluegrass Black Pride members seeking to make the exhibit more available to the general public, the Lexington Public Library ran the exhibit in the fall of 2015 and it is now on display at the Lyric. The exhibition was part of the September 2016 Gallery Hop.
The 26 framed images showcased in the exhibition are from UK photo collections and from very generous loans by individuals and organizations throughout the community and who are credited on the caption cards next to each frame. The exhibition is sponsored by UK Libraries, UK African American and Africana Studies Program, and the community organization Bluegrass Black Pride.
SCRC is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection and the digital library, ExploreUK. The mission of the center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center is dedicated to honoring its past while maintaining a strong vision for the further development of both the East End and the greater Lexington and Bluegrass community. The mission of the Lyric is to preserve, promote, present and celebrate diverse cultures with special emphasis on African-American cultural heritage through artistic presentations of the highest quality, educational programming and outreach, film, and opportunities for community inclusion.