For the past couple of months, I have prepared to move our Salt Lake City headquarters to a new location a couple of blocks away. With the goal of moving as little as possible, I scanned and recycled most of our paper files. What an amazing journey this has been to read through items collected throughout our company’s 50-years of being part of gay history.
His-Story – Hanns Ebensten
Our founder, Hanns Ebensten, ran the first gay tours a half-century ago. His recollections serve as a treasure trove of the history of gay travel. During his 82 years, Hanns wrote 6 books about his travel adventures (plus a definitive book about tattoos in the 1950s!).
We still have a few copies of Hanns’ books, so if you would like one, please let me know. I will be happy to send a complimentary copy to any of our travelers and readers.
His-Story – Sasha Alyson
There are also items from our second company, Alyson Adventures, dating to its founding in 1995 by Sasha Alyson. Sasha not only created one of the first gay adventure travel companies, but previously founded Boston’s Bay Windows newspaper and Alyson Publications.
Most famous (or infamous) among Alyson Publications’ books were five children’s books with an LGBTQ theme. There was backlash against these books causing Sasha to write a New York Times article about the controversy.
My late partner Jim Rusnak wrote about coming out at age 17 in Chapter 10 in Alyson Publications’ One Teenager in Ten. When it was published in 1982, Jim and I met Sasha in his Boston office. 20 years later, in 2002, I sat in the same office to buy Sasha’s travel company.
My-Story – 5 Decades of Gay History
I’ve been “out” since college and I’m a bit of a pack rat, so I have boxes of newspapers and other items. These items document my many connections to the LGBTQ + community over the decades.
For example, I was active in the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) for over 20 years, and I saved many programs, convention agendas, and other items. I also have the newsletters of several organizations that I belonged to before anything was archived on the Internet.
I look forward to sharing more of my favorite travel memories in future blogs.
Your-Stories – Our Unique Life Paths
Perhaps you also have items that reflect your journey through life as a gay man, lesbian, bisexual, trans-sexual, or other gender minority. If so, I would like to invite you to join me in donating LGBTQ+ books, magazines, newspapers, and other memorabilia to the Brett Shingledecker GLBT Collection at Ohio State University.
This collection was created by Brett Shingledecker, one of our long-time tour directors. Before starting his travel career, Brett owned the People Like Us gay & lesbian bookstore in Chicago and was a community leader.
He donated many of the books and memorabilia from his personal library to this collection. The curator would love to expand this collection to document the rich history of our community.
His-Story – Documenting Gay History
From Brett: “Just last year, Ohio State created a new minor in LGBTQ studies. The University has at its helm for the first time a lesbian member of our community as President: Kristina Johnson.” (President Johnson has been a pioneer her entire life. In high school she joined the boy’s lacrosse team since there was no girls team.)
“It’s so important to preserve our history. The university seeks any materials specific to our LGBTQ culture that may then be used for study, instruction and education. If you have materials, especially of a historical nature, please consider donating them to OSU.”
Our-Stories – Contribute to Recording Gay History!
Through articles about the evolution of LGBTQ rights, such as the recognition of gay marriage, journalists have documented our progress as a group. However, this collection allows each of us to contribute Our-Stories to document the rich Gay History of each of our diverse communities!