Rainbows and Revolutions brings the state’s LGBTQ+ past to History Colorado

The exhibit highlights moments of rebellion from the 1950s to the present.
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From Rainbows and Revolutions at History Colorado: Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan perform at a backyard Dyketopia comedy show, 2021. Credit: Photo by Nick Holmby. Courtesy Lee Robinson.

History Colorado will revisit the past 70-plus years of LGBTQ+ activism in the state, through the upcoming exhibit, Rainbows and Revolutions, which opens June 4, at the History Colorado Center.

The show will include artifacts from pivotal moments in Colorado's LGBTQ+ history like the civil rights and equality movement of the 1950s, a headline-grabbing revolt against Denver City Council in 1973, the state's handling of the AIDS epidemic in the '80s, and the passage of Amendment 2, in the '90s, which garnered the state's then reputation as "the hate state."

The exhibit concludes with a look at the past few years, including the state's distinction, in 2018, as the first in the country to elect an openly gay governor.

The show is curated from the Gill Foundation LGBTQ Archives, a permanent collection at the museum. The project honors the progress of the LGBTQ+ community over the last several decades and those experiences make up Colorado's story, said Aaron Marcus, associate curator of LGBTQ+ History at History Colorado in a statement.

"As a historian, I feel a responsibility to preserve and pass along the stories of the LGBTQ+ community so we can all learn from and add to them," Marcus said. "By using our voices to document what we've been through, we hope to pave a smoother path forward toward equality and full acceptance to become a truly inclusive and stronger community for everyone."

The exhibit will include stained glass from the Woman to Woman Feminist Bookcenter, a Colfax Avenue staple in the '70s and '80s, according to the statement. Also on display: Gov. Jared Polis's blue sneakers that he wore during his 2018 campaign; a drag outfit worn by Juiccy Misdemeanor at Black Pride Colorado, and hot-wax artwork of queer Latine femme artist Maya Youcef-Toumi. There will also be posters from Pride, gay magazines, personal photos, court documents and other artifacts.

Rainbows and Revolutions will tour the rest of the state after the History Colorado Center run concludes.

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