Making History

Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights

This site is the web version of a traveling exhibit that debuted in 2017. For more about the making of this exhibit, see our about page.

How does change happen? How is history made?

We often mark the passage of time by headline-grabbing events like elections, uprisings, or the passing of legislation. But progress often comes from much less flashy, much more local sources.

This is particularly true about the history of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Many people associate the rise of LGBT rights with the widely reported uprising of gay youth at the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. Yet the impact this event had on America’s gay rights movement was in many ways made possible by the hard work of women and men whose story is much less known—including several Kansas City residents.

Making History tells their story.

Built by students in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s public history program, the exhibit explores the activism of gays and lesbians in the decades before Stonewall, including Kansas City’s surprisingly pivotal role in helping to launch America’s gay rights movement. Focusing on ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things, the exhibit explores how history is made.