Each year the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan is being honored nationally. It is a special time for recognizing the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally, and for remembering those who paved the way and those who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The celebration includes pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts.
The GLBTQ Archives in the Elihu Burritt Library at CCSU hold primary material related to the struggle for gay rights, and is particularly strong in Connecticut collections, offering comprehensive coverage of local political and cultural history from the 1960s to today.
Collections in the GLBTQ archives tell the stories of overturning the sodomy ban (1969); passing the hate crimes (1990), gay rights (1991) and marriage equality (2008) laws; fighting for progressive AIDS legislation (1980s-1990s); and securing transgender protections (2010s). The Archives hold many personal papers donated by people active in the community as well as records of organizations. Our students and history professors conducted oral history interviews which were also placed in the archives. They give an intimate insight into individual struggles. A wide collection of ephemera is also a part of the Archives. It includes photographs, books, buttons, T- shirts, videos, postcards, and flyers documenting campaigns and events.
Some of the key collections are the records of such organizations as Connecticut AIDS Action Council, Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival/Out Film, Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival, Dignity Hartford, Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, Metropolitan Community Church, Project 100/GLBT Community Center, and the Reader’s Feast bookstore.
Among the key leading figures of the local GLBTQ movement who have donated their papers were Richard Cardarelli, Carolyn Gabel-Brett, Victor D’Lugin, Betty Gallo (longtime lobbyist for GLBTQ rights), George W. Henry/Canon Clinton Jones, Christine Pattee, Richard Nelson, and Donna Stimpson. The Archives also holds the papers of John Loughery and William J. Mann, nationally known authors.
The most recent addition is a collection of personal papers of Jerimarie Liesegang. Jerimarie was one of the most active pioneers of the Connecticut transgender movement who founded several organizations, among them It’s Time Connecticut and The Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition. She was one of organizers of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honor the memory of transgender people who have been killed in acts of anti-transgender violence. Thanks to Jerimarie’s work, gender identity and expression was added to the 2011 Act Concerning Discrimination and was signed into law, protecting the transgender community from discrimination. It was just one example of her success in achieving legal reform through persistent lobbying and outreach campaigns.
She wrote in many publications in Connecticut and spoke at many rallies and educational forums. She worked closely with Love Makes a Family, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, PFLAG, and the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective.
In 2013, as a recognized transgender community leader, she carried the lead banner in the Free Chelsea Manning group during the New York Pride Parade.
Though transgender rights were the focus of her activity she was involved in many campaigns on the wide variety of progressive issues ranging from peace, affordable housing, disability rights, reproductive rights, environmental issues, immigrant rights, access to free or affordable health care, freeing political prisoners, and social justice.
Over the last years she gathered materials and co-produced four videos on Connecticut LGBTQ history using materials from research done in the GLBTQ archives at Central Connecticut State University.
Sadly, Jerimarie died on November 3, 2020. She will be remembered as a loving and giving person who fought for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex community. Jerimarie fully understood that her struggle and the struggle of the transgender community were intertwined with all other communities who fought for their basic human and civil rights.
Jerimarie Liesegang will be recognized posthumously, for her advocacy for the Transgender and broader LGBTQI+ communities in Connecticut during the induction ceremony to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame on September 29, 2021.
Interview with Jerimarie Liesegang: https://mediaspace.ccsu.edu/media/Oral+history+interview+with+Jerimarie+Liesegang+on+September+26%2C+2019/1_0s8jr1tp
Photo from Jerimarie Liesegang Collection (GLBTQ #2012-07)