April 27: 2015. St. Louis civil rights leader and community activist Laura Ann Moore passed away on April 26, 2015. Moore (born 1945) was a co-founder in St Louis of the Lesbian Alliance in the late 1960s. With others, Moore helped found a rape crisis center and the St. Louis Abused Women’s Support Project.
The group helped organize a state lobbying day to protest when Anita Bryant campaigned in Missouri in 1977 and protested the Miss Universe contest when the event came to St. Louis in 1983. In the early 1970s, Moore and her group successfully challenged the sexually-biased admittance policies of Ranken Technical College.
The school initially admitted two women, including Moore, who went on to open a garage and form the St. Louis Women’s Garage. Joining NOW in the 1970s, Moore became chair of the St. Louis legal committee.
The committee lobbied the city of St. Louis mayor’s office for women’s rights to get funding for women’s initiatives, and to get women appointed to city government. The committee also wrote a booklet that told women what to do in cases of sexual harassment, held protests, and lobbied for abortion rights. She also was an elected delegate to International Women's Year Conference in Houston in 1977.
She was the first woman in St. Louis to serve as a housing inspector, a building inspector, and a multi-discipline inspector for commercial and residential property.
Moore was fired from her job as a building commissioner of Vinita Park when the fact that she was a lesbian made the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
She sued, received a settlement, and became the first "out" LGBT person appointed to the St. Louis Civil Rights Commission (in 1993 by Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr.), and possibly to any public commission or office in the city's history. Moore received her B.A. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Biography Source: Barbara J. Love, Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975
Image Credit: Gateway Heritage Magazine, Fall 1994 (1973 Laura Moore
April 16, 2015: The Project is honored to be participating in the Organization of American Historians 2015 Conference being held in St. Louis April 16-19. The Project is involved in panel discussions, an exhibit, and tours in conjunction with our sister LGBT History Projects in Kansas City, MO, Springfield, MO, and the Missouri History Museum. In addition to the Project's work, the Conference features an in-depth array of LGBT focused history topics highlighting researchers from across the nation.
March 29, 2015: The Project is busy processing Connie Duncan's collection of sports and drag related photographs. Connie was a founding organizer of the Gay Rodeo Association in St. Louis and active on several sports teams, including bowling. He also has been instrumental in helping document the Project's working list of lesbian and gay bars that have served St. Louis since the 1940s. Connie also volunteers to help staff the Project's exhibit at Pride every year. Thanks Connie for your on-going support of the Project and sharing your rare images.
March 24, 2015: This past winter, the Project has updated the timeline section of the website. Far from complete (will always be a work in progress) several new discoveries have been added. As well, several new sidebar menu items in the timeline section go into great depth on several topics. We are always on the lookout for new information related to St. Louis' LGBT past. Please help us out. We especially need founding dates for St. Louis area LGBT organizations. Here are some of our most recent additions:
- William Drummond Stewart, a member of the Scottish nobility, arrives in St. Louis to begin several years of travels to the far reaches of the unknown western frontier. According to the book "Men in Eden" by William Benemann, Stewart was gay. He would use St. Louis as a base for his "flamboyant" adventures.
- Charles Hamilton Hughes (1839-1916) begins to publish a St. Louis-based medical journal - The Alienist and Neurologist. The journal was published from 1880 until his death in 1916, making him the sole editor for all 37 volumes. The Journal would feature several groundbreaking reports on homosexuality.
- Lillie Rose Ernst is one of the first twelve women to graduate from Washington University. She began her life-long teaching career at Central High School the next year. She never married. It is clear that she was devoted to her female friendships. She was especially close to author Leonora Halsted who left a $20,000 estate to Ernst in "appreciation of her devoted care...and my abiding love." Further study needed.
- On February 23, Dr. Charles Breedlove, a young dentist, commits suicide at Hurst's Hotel. The story makes national headlines due to his infatuation with his "friend" Issac Judson. Upon his death, Dr. Breedlove was wearing a charm around his neck featuring a picture of Judson.
- The Potters, a group of St. Louis women artists and writers begin to publish a monthly magazine called The Potter's Wheel from 1904-1907. The Potter's Wheel contained a variety of artistic output, including poetry and prose, photographs, calligraphy artwork, needlework and the like. The Potters were all young women in their late teens and early twenties and members included poet Sara Teasdale, artists Caroline Risque and Petronelle Sombart, photographers Grace and Williamina Parrish, and writers Vine Colby, Inez Dutro, Celia Harris, Edna Wahlert and Guida Richey. Their mentor, Lillie Rose Ernst, was a botany teacher at Central High School and later an administrator with the St. Louis Public School System. The Potters went their various way after 1907, some of them to marry, others for further study or to actively pursue careers in distant places. It is suspected that Ernst and other members may have been lesbian or bisexual. Further study needed.