Much of Arizona’s LGBTQ history is unrecorded, due to our lack of written records from Native American communities pre-colonialism. What we do know about the tribes in the Arizona area from European-American “explorers” indicates that Two-Spirit individuals were common and revered. Gender and sexuality were treated differently than today and often in much more fluid ways.
Tucson is home to the Arizona Queer Archives, a start-up within Dr. Susan Stryker’s Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona. We got to meet with the founder, Dr. Jamie A. Lee, and get a tour and some insight on this archives:
Dr. Lee led us to a memorial bench to a gay victim of a hate crime from 1976. Richard Heakin had been visiting Tucson from Lincoln, Nebraska and was murdered outside a gay bar. The memorial is in a garden right next to City Hall along with veterans memorials and statues of presidents and explorers. The inscription on the plaque across from the bench can be seen below:
Browse this photo album for pictures of the archives, the memorial, and more.