PHOENIX — In the early 2000s, a building near 3rd and Roosevelt streets in downtown Phoenix was demolished to make way for a condominium development.
The building was historically significant to the Valley's LGBT+ community because it was home to the 307 Lounge, one of the first nightclubs in the Valley that catered to the gay community.
Phoenix Pride members say losing the fight to preserve the nightclub highlighted how little was being done to preserve LGBTQ+ history in the Valley.
But from that loss, a movement to document and preserve LGBTQ+ history in Arizona was born.
The Arizona LGBT+ History Project, a collaboration between Phoenix Pride, Marshall Shore, also known as the “Hip Historian” and Arizona State University Libraries, was established in 2015 to encourage the documentation and preservation of documents, narratives and other items that tell the state’s LGBTQ+ history.
Five years after the history project was established, the group successfully championed a plaque marking the 307 Lounge’s location
“People came together and said, 'oh, you know, our history is quickly going away, how do we start preserving it?'” Shore said.
The history he has found recounts the perseverance of the gay community in Arizona throughout the years. Shore said Arizona’s first gay bar opened in south Phoenix in the early 1940s. Soon after, more started opening around Arizona. The bars served as a safe haven where the queer community could be themselves.
“If you were found on the street dressed as a woman, you were thrown in jail. And so just by trying to live your life the way you wanted, could have disastrous complications,” Shore said.
In 1969, protests erupted across the country after police raided a gay club in New York City arresting and outing 13 people. Similar actions took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix. Pride month is celebrated in remembrance of the riots.
“Their names were published in the paper, many of them lost jobs. They lost family,” Shore said.
Now Shore aims to make sure Queer trailblazers aren’t forgotten.
“There are so many stories and histories of marginalized communities, and we can all benefit from knowing those stories,” Shore said.
He is working on a book to document the LGBTQ+ history in Phoenix.
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