Skip to main content

Coming Out in Lowell From Early Community to Marriage Equality this Saturday, June 7 at 11am

Celebrate LGBT Pride month by taking in Coming Out In Lowell an event by the Lowell Gay History Project (LGHP) happening at our library’s ground floor meeting room this Saturday, June 7th from 11:00-1:00PM. This event will explore the history of the lesbian and gay community in Lowell from its early days to marriage equality. The event will include an exhibit of photos and other materials. Speaking program at 11:30 AM. Free entertainment and food – open to the public. Funded in part through a grant by the Lowell Cultural Council. 

col_tsampas_large

Photo courtesy of Tony Sampas
Above Left: Barbara Paragula and Lynn Berry at a house party circa 1956. Above Right: Manny Diaz and Paul Poitras.

Over the past year, the LGHP, with support from a Lowell Cultural Council grant, has been collecting archival material and personal stories documenting the history of the gay and lesbian community in Lowell. The project has been focusing particularly on the period after World War II through the late 1960s especially on Mill City’s well-known entertainer Manny Dias who pushed the envelope with his public shows as well as Greater Lowell’s lesbian community who found a home in the 1950s and ’60s at the famous Moody Gardens club. During these decades brave lesbians and gay men, persisting despite hostility from the larger society, laid the ground work for the gay community’s civil rights struggles in the 1970s and 1980s, all of which has led to the great gains made in more recent decades including the same sex marriage victory of ten years ago.

Beth Brassel and Mehmed Ali, the coordinators of the project, believe that the project is an important addition to the scope of the city’s history.

Ali, a faculty member with University of Massachusetts Lowell’s History Department, relates, “Gay folks had a hard time being accepted by many in the city but also found places like the Moody Gardens or the Majestic CafĂ© where they could form communities which illustrated freedom of assembly for all Lowellians.”

Brassel, a librarian at Lowell’s Pollard Memorial Library, states, “Uncovering the history of the LGBTQ community in Lowell is important not just for the members of the LGBTQ community, but also for the larger Lowell community. This is a history of strong, persistent people whose struggles against discrimination and harassment are not only a part of gay history, but also an important part of Lowell history.”