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Massive Archive Showcases Decades Of LGBTQ Life In Kentucky

James "Sweet Evening Breeze" Herndon
Courtesy Jonathan Coleman

Exploration of the long history of LGBTQ life in Kentucky is just beginning — thanks in part to Lexington historian Jonathan Coleman and artist Robert Morgan.

The two are the driving force behind the Faulkner-Morgan Pagan Babies Archive, which chronicles LGBTQ life in Kentucky. It stretches back at least to 1780 and features more than 12,000 items and 100 hours of recorded interviews, including material provided by artist Henry Faulkner.

I spoke with Coleman about shining a light on the history LGBTQ life in Kentucky.

Listen in the audio player above.

Coleman on the earliest story in the archive:

“We have found stories as early as 1780 in Kentucky of men, a couple, who seem to get along pretty famously. They’re friends with Henry Clay, and no one seems to mind they’re lovers.”

Coleman on artist Morgan on helping build the archive:

“Sometimes it was just junk literally laid out in trash cans during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Bob was talking care of people he didn’t even know well but who had been abandoned by their families. And after they died of AIDS, their landlord or families would just throw their personal stuff out on the curb, and Bob would take it and keep it.”

Above: James "Sweet Evening Breeze" Herndon


Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.