Historians at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia will soon offer a guide showing the lives of queer denizens in the 1700s.
“Human beings who operate outside of sexual and gender expectations have always existed within and contributed to our history,” wrote Beth Kelly, vice president of Education, Research, and Historical Interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, in an internal memo.
“Sharing this history is vital if we are committed to telling a holistic narrative of our past.”
LGBTQ staff for years encouraged the inclusion of queer history at the living history museum, according to The Washington Post.
Aubrey Moog-Ayers, an apprentice weaver who identifies as queer, said guests have asked her about whether cross-dressers or gay men lived in colonial times there. She has shared her own research.
“I’m queer, and I wanted to see if that was something that existed, if I could see myself in the past,” she said.
The foundation has launched a committee to research the history of “gender and sexually nonconforming people.” Source books and guides will be generated from findings.
Historians say there’s renewed efforts in recent years to further explore queer history, and the move at Williamsburg is the most recent step. The National Park Service in 2016 released a 1,200-page document, LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, chronicling the lives of LGBTQ people through U.S. history.