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Republican lawmakers force LGBTQ exhibit display out of Missouri Capitol

Openly Out Missouri State Senator Razer; “The exhibit’s removal was proof discrimination is alive in Jefferson City.”

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Missouri State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: The State of Missouri)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A display curated by students from the University of Missouri at Kansas City celebrating LGBTQ history was removed from the Missouri State Museum on the first floor of the state capitol building, after complaints from a legislative staffer to a state Republican lawmaker.

The exhibit, titled “Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights” apparently offended Uriah Stark, a Legislator Assistant for Republican Representative Mitch Boggs (District 157) in the Missouri House of Representatives, who in addition to complaining to his boss, Tuesday night he complained in a Facebook post on his personal page: 

Update: To clarify, the Missouri State Museum, which is under the Department of Natural Resources, is responsible for allowing this. Original: So is there any good reason that our taxpayer funded museum is pushing the LGBT agenda in our state capitol? These are literally in-your-face banners that you can’t walk through the museum without seeing… and they’re scheduled to be there through December.

Screenshot from Facebook

On Wednesday Stark triumphantly announced that the museum had removed the exhibit, which had only been publicly displayed for 4 days at the point it was removed. The exhibit was scheduled to run for 12 weeks:

Update on pro LGBT “history” exhibit. Thanks to the efforts of several of our great elected officials, the exhibit has been removed from the Missouri State Museum! To God be the glory! Shoutout to Rep. Ann Kelley and Rep. Brian Seitz for taking the bull by the horns! I also spoke with multiple other elected officials who were ready and willing to take action, thank you all for standing for traditional family values!

Screenshot from Facebook

The Kansas City Star, which first broke the story, reported Thursday that the exhibit consisted of banners, curated by UMKC history students, that recount the activism of the local LGBT community, including a focus on 1950s gay rights groups known as homophile organizations.

It had gone up just four days ago State Senator Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat and the only openly gay member of the Senate told the Star. In an email response to inquiries about the exhibit’s removal by the Star, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources Connie Patterson responded saying only that “the display has been moved from the Capitol.” She did not say why or who made the decision.

The UMKC exhibit had been on display around Kansas City in past years before making it to the Missouri State Museum. Last Friday, UMKC’s Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America posted on Facebook cheering its installation at the capitol. The students who curated the exhibit used the archive’s collections.

“We are absolutely thrilled that our colleagues at the Museum have mounted the exhibit, which will be on display for Capitol visitors and state legislators through the end of the year,” the post read.

Screenshot from Facebook

Responding to the exhibit’s removal, state Senator Razer told the Star he was furious to find out about its removal and said he questioned whether LGBT Missourians are welcome in state parks.

“I think it is the epitome of cancel culture that they just want to cancel my history,” he said. “I think it shows a degree of bigotry and I don’t use that word lightly.”

The newspaper noted that Razer has pushed for the legislature to adopt a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment and other private sector activities. The proposal has not made it to passage after more than two decades. Razer said the exhibit’s removal was proof discrimination is alive in Jefferson City.

“Do you really think the people that brought down that exhibit are going to rent me a house? We have seen discrimination under our own roof,” he said.

“The story that that exhibit told is the story of how I get to stand on the Senate floor in the first place. Thirty years ago there wouldn’t be an openly gay man in the state Senate.”

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