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Watch A People’s History of the LGBTQ Community in Grand Rapids, a film the GR People’s History Project produced in 2011

June 15, 2022

Eleven years ago we were frantically in the midst of conducting some 75 interviews with members of the LGBTQ community and a few allies, for our feature lengthen documentary on the history of this community in Grand Rapids.

In addition to the interviews, we collected tons of archival materials – pictures, video, posters, flyers – along with sifting through The Network newsletters and a methodical research project of the Grand Rapids Press from the late 1970s through 2010.

All of these materials are what made up the content of the documentary we produced, which included Girbe Eefsting, Bob Toft, Colette Seguin Beighley, Tom Henry and Ana Fisk.

As the lead producer of this project, I learned a ton about the history of the LGBTQ community in Grand Rapids and was in awe of the sacrifices, risks and commitment of the people we interviewed. Their stories were powerful and inspiring. 

The film focuses on the period of the late 1960s through 2010, particularly around the following critical junctures in the local LGBTQ community:

  • Early years of support and survival
  • The founding of The Network
  • The early Pride Celebrations
  • Organizing and care work around HIV/AIDS
  • The Campaign to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Grand Rapids
  • Organizing and campaigns at GVSU
  • The Religious Right in West MI
  • Sons & Daughter’s Book Store
  • The growth of LGBTQ organizations
  • Why this history is important

The film is 1 hour and 41 minutes long and can be viewed online and we still have DVD copies for those interested. 

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