Revolutionizing LGBTQ+ History Documentation: The ‘Raising the Bars’ Project

Edited by Mikkel Hyldebrandt

The Stonewall National Museum Archives & Library and GayBarchives have joined forces to announce a groundbreaking new initiative called ‘Raising the Bars’.

The core objective of ‘Raising the Bars’ is to recognize and celebrate the significant role that gay bars have played, and continue to play in the growth and development of the LGBTQ+ community. Historians have traditionally focused on events, activists, and legal milestones, often neglecting the active collection of stories from the community. ‘Raising the Bars’ seeks to change this dynamic by actively engaging in the documentation of our rich and colorful history.

The LGBTQ+ community has embraced this undertaking with great excitement. Endorsements from numerous LGBTQ+ historians, bar owners, and authors are featured on the project’s website,, demonstrating widespread support for the initiative.

At the heart of ‘Raising the Bars’ are various programs and activities aimed at showcasing the significance of queer bars and safe havens throughout history. Traveling exhibits, videos, educational projects, and entertainment programs will bring queer history to the forefront and create opportunities for the public to engage with this important part of our cultural heritage. In addition to these initiatives, the project will actively collect and preserve artifacts and ephemera from bars and organizations, ensuring their preservation for future generations.

Highlights of the ‘Raising the Bars’ project include:

Active Outreach

The project team will actively reach out to the owners of LGBTQ+ bars and safe havens, both past and present, to foster collaboration and gather valuable historical information.

Traveling Exhibits

The development of traveling exhibits focused on the fascinating and often untold history of LGBTQ+ bars will educate and raise awareness among a broader audience.

Gay Trivia Database

‘Raising the Bars’ aims to create a comprehensive database of gay trivia, capturing the lesser-known facts and stories that have shaped the LGBTQ+ community.

National Queer Trivia Competition

An exciting initiative under ‘Raising the Bars’ is the implementation of a national LGBTQ+ trivia competition, intended to engage and entertain participants while promoting awareness about queer history.

Documentation of LGBTQ+ Bars and Community Centers

The project will thoroughly document the history of various bars and community centers that have served as integral gathering spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

Recognition of Safe Spaces: Long-standing queer safe spaces across the United States will be formally recognized, highlighting their important contributions to the community.

‘GayBarchives’ Collection

To ensure the preservation of LGBTQ+ bar culture, a special collection, named ‘GayBarchives’, will be created to house a wide range of bar ephemera and memorabilia.

Network Building

Collaborating with organizations like the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) and local affiliated chambers, ‘Raising the Bars’ aims to forge strong networks to support its mission.

LGBTQ+ Bar Passport Program

In an effort to promote LGBTQ+ bars and encourage exploration, the project will initiate a national bar passport program, where participants can collect stamps from various LGBTQ+ bars across the country.

Archival Project Partnerships

‘Raising the Bars’ seeks to build relationships with independent regional archival projects, inspiring a collective effort to preserve LGBTQ+ history.

Partnerships with LGBTQ+ Entertainment Businesses

By partnering with related businesses within the LGBTQ+ entertainment space, the project aims to enhance the visibility and reach of its initiatives.

Book and Article Publication Assistance

‘Raising the Bars’ will actively assist in the publication of LGBTQ+ history books and articles, ensuring that stories from our community are widely shared and celebrated.

With ‘Raising the Bars’, the Stonewall National Museum Archives & Library and GayBarchives are embarking on a transformative journey to document and preserve the diverse, vibrant, and impactful history of LGBTQ+ bars. Through its various programs and collaborations, ‘Raising the Bars’ promises to revolutionize our understanding of queer culture and serve as a vital resource for generations to come. Learn more at,, and

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