Gay history exhibit removed from museum at Missouri Capitol

Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An exhibit on the history of gay rights in Missouri has been removed from the Capitol just days after it was put on display.

Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, the only openly gay lawmaker in the upper chamber is demanding answers as to why it was taken down when it was supposed to be on display until late December. 

The governor’s office said Thursday the right steps weren’t followed to display the exhibit, but Razer believes some of his colleagues had it removed. The “Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights” is a traveling exhibit made by students at the University of Missouri Kansas City.

It was set to be on display inside the state museum in the Capitol through Dec. 26 but was removed Wednesday.  That came after a legislative aide for state Rep. Mitch Boggs, a Republican from La Russell, posted pictures of the exhibit on Facebook and questioned why it was being displayed.

“It sounds as if there were some members that were offended that my history would be told in the Capitol building and pushed on the Parks Department to remove it,” Razer said. “Personally offended that this was taken down in my state Capitol building.”

The museum is managed by Missouri State Parks’ which is overseen by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Razer said he reached out to the department Thursday and was given several different reasons the exhibit was removed.

“One of the reasons was it had not been vetted properly, that grammar hasn’t been check, that they hadn’t double verified all that all the information was accurate,” Razer said.

He said another reason was the security of the exhibit due to the possibility of it being vandalized. 

“To that I responded, if it’s security that we are worried about, I will commit to raising the money to provide the added security this exhibit needs to go back up,” Razer said. 

The display describes and shows how police would arrest LGBT people for dancing or they couldn’t be served alcohol. 

“A community that came to not only tolerate but embrace and love the LGBT community to a place that has now elected me, an openly gay senator without care if I’m gay or not,” Razer said.

“What we saw in the Capitol yesterday with the removing of that exhibit is a small example of closeting part of our history,” Razer said.

Razer said when he was 17 years old, he was suicidal about being gay and is worried for other teenagers feeling the same way when hearing the state of Missouri removed an LGBT exhibit. 

“When you see on the news that bigoted decision was made to take down an LGBT history exhibited in the Capitol building that there is a strong voice fighting for that history and fighting for you,” Razer said. 

A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources confirmed the exhibit was removed Thursday morning but didn’t confirm by who.  Thursday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson said the governor did not know the exhibit was on display in the Capitol.

“Gov. Parson was not aware of the display at the Missouri State Museum that detailed the history of the LGBTQ community in Missouri. Governor Parson’s office became aware of the display after receiving several complaints regarding the display.

“The Department of Natural Resources manages the Museum and state statute requires the Department to coordinate activities relating to the Museum with the Board of Public Buildings. The statutorily mandated process was not followed in this instance, thereby, causing the Department of Natural Resources to remove the display.”

Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, said he did call the museum director Wednesday to ask, “Why was this time chosen for the display? Is it needful and was there an agenda behind the timing as school children may be taking trips to the Capitol in the near future? Would this display have been age-appropriate and does it represent the feelings and concerns of most Missourians?”

Seitz said he did not receive a phone call back. 

DNR did not say where the exhibit is now since it was supposed to be on display until Dec. 26. 
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying: 

“The removal amid political pressure of a temporary display in the Missouri Capitol Museum commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights in Kansas City is just the latest example of the Republican war on the truth.

“Only scared people with small minds feel threatened by historical facts that challenge them to reevaluate what they think they know. The state Capitol belongs to all Missourians, and all Missourians deserve to have their history represented in it. This display must be reinstated immediately.”

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