History museum

An LGBTQ+ history museum could become the latest addition to the National Mall in Washington, DC

A Smithsonian National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History and Culture Could Come to Washington, DC

U.S. Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin just introduced two bills to establish the museum, which would follow in the footsteps of institutions such as the Museum of African American History and the Museum of Hispanic History.

“As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations,” Pocan said in a statement. “Remembering our collective past is critical, especially when some states seek to restrict and abrogate existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth.”

The Washingtonian reported that the move came in response to student walkouts over Virginia’s choice to repeal protections for transgender students. A member of Pocan’s office told Artnet News that “now is the time to honor the many contributions of LGBTQ people, Americans, and world leaders.”

The Pocan staffer also noted that with only 16 days left in the session, Pocan is seizing the opportunity to lead the initiative and uphold Wisconsin’s legacy of LGBTQ+ equality. (In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.)

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC, near the Washington Monument. Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

However, the road ahead could be long. Lawmakers will need to pass a bill to form a commission, which will then “assess whether it can even be done,” the Pocan rep said. “They consider fundraising, and where in DC that would go, and what the message would be.”

The commission would ideally be made up of eight experts from the museum who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. The second bill, if passed, would officially establish the museum.

There were plans to establish a similar institution in New York, but they appear to have collapsed in 2015.

Pocan is one of nine openly gay active members of Congress, alongside Rep. Richie Torres of the Bronx. The nine representatives co-signed his bill, along with 50 other members of the chamber.

“It took many, many congresses to get every American history museum elected,” Pocan’s office concluded. “It is not an easy road ahead of us, but a road we are committed to following.”

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