Monday, October 26, 2009

Dayton, OH honors Natalie Barney with state's first LGBT historical marker!

City unveils marker dedicated to lesbian author:
"DAYTON — She may be the most famous Daytonian unknown to Daytonians, but now Natalie Barney — literary patron and lesbian author who lived most of her life in Paris — has her own Ohio Historical Marker near the downtown library.

The marker was unveiled Sunday, Oct. 25, in a ceremony at Cooper Park attended by city commissioners, Ohio Historical Society officials and members of state and Dayton area gay rights organizations, which led the effort to recognize Barney for both her place in history and her pioneering openness about her sexuality.

Of Ohio’s 1,250 historical markers, it’s the first to indicate a person’s sexual orientation.

“Not only are we celebrating history today, but we’re making history,” Robert Berger, head of Ohio’s Gay History Initiative, told a gathering of about 50 people Sunday.

The Ohio Historical Society launched the initiative in 2006 to review and approve applications for monuments to honor “the history of all its people,” including gays and lesbians, said acting director James Strider.

Barney’s writings supported feminism, paganism and pacifism. In 1900, she published her first book of lesbian love poems, “Quelques Portraits-Sonnets de Femmes,” all copies of which her disapproving father purchased and destroyed. That same year, she began holding literary salons in her apartment on the Left Bank."

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