UMKC Professor and GLAMA Work to Tell Kansas City’s LGBT History

Austin Williams (right), a UMKC Professor, directed his documentary “The Ordinance Project” to tell the story of the anti-AIDS discrimination ordinance that passed in Kansas City in June of 1993.

This ordinance is “one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in Kansas City’s history,” Williams said. The ordinance made it illegal to for Kansas City employers, businesses and housing to discriminate against LGBT+ and HIV-positive people.

“I wanted to eventually write a dissertation and tell a story about both AIDS activism and the push for LGBT civil rights,” said Williams. “That ordinance seemed like the perfect focal point.”

To Williams, “The Ordinance Project” is more than just a film. It is exactly what its name implies: a project that will engage the broader public.

“It was always intended to be a public history project that would reach audiences on a multitude of levels,” Williams said.
“The Ordinance Project” has only been shown a handful of times to select audiences. It premiered at the 2018 Kansas City LGBT Film Festival, and since then has only been shown two other times, including a showing in the class Williams teaches here at UMKC.

Williams says it is still a work in progress, but he hopes the film will be shown on campus sometime next spring.

The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, or GLAMA, was a crucial resource and partner to Williams. It is regarded as one of the best gay and lesbian archives in the country, and located on campus.

The Miller Nichols Library has LaBudde’s Special Collections on the third floor, which includes GLAMA.

To make his documentary, Williams had to digitize VHS Tapes, conduct hours of interviews and make transcriptions of those interviews. All of those works will be donated to GLAMA to better archive Kansas City’s LGBT+ history.

Williams has also gone above and beyond to further expand GLAMA’s archives.

“I’ve been trying to be a middleman to convince people to donate to GLAMA,” he said. “A lot of people have a lot of amazing things, and they maybe don’t even realize how historically significant they are.”

If you have a piece of Midwestern LGBT History, and you want to donate it, visit the LaBudde’s Special Collections on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library, or contact GLAMA Curator Stuart Hinds at 816-235-5712.

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