It's been a longtime dream of gay rights activist Ivy Bottini, who was profiled in the 2010 L.A. Weekly People issue, to build a world-class gay and lesbian museum in Los Angeles. Now she and a group called the Lavender Effect are putting things into motion to make that dream come true.
Today, they announced the kickoff of the project, and they're starting a fund raising drive. The first event will involve the gay stand-up comedy festival Outlaugh, which will donate a portion of ticket sales to the museum. That starts up tonight at The Macha Theatre in West Hollywood.
Bottini and Lavender Effect Executive Director Andy Sacher answered our questions about the museum, which we think is a boffo idea.
L.A. Weekly: Why is there a need for an LGBT museum in Los Angeles?
Andy Sacher: We want to promote Los Angeles as a world center for LGBTQ civil rights and culture, and trumpet Southern California's LGBTQ impact on the world from the influence of Hollywood — both positive and negative — to its grassroots pioneers.
Ivy Bottini: Gay and lesbian activists in Los Angeles have played a major role in the gay rights movement in the United States, but people don't often know about it. We want to change that.
Weekly: What's your mission or goal for the museum?
Sacher: We want to preserve our past, celebrate our present, and create our future. It's our overall goal to advance society's understanding and appreciation of LGBT people, and to educate the public and LGBT community about the important historical contributions of LGBT people to world civilization, as well as to California.
Bottini: We also want to demystify human sexuality and sexual identity, and showcase the full spectrum of LGBT diversity, human sexuality, and identification through immersive exhibits, cultural programs, interactive media, and scholarly research.
It's also our goal to advance the campaign for full LGBT equality and maintain a sense of community among LGBT People. And we want to provide the resources and forum to help define the 21st century LGBTQ community.
We definitely intend to educate and inspire future generations of gays and lesbians and provide positive role models for LGBT youth.
Weekly: Some people will say, 'Museums are boring. We don't need another museum.' What do you say to that, and what kind of museum experience do you expect to provide?
Sacher: Both Ivy and I understand that, but this is going to be more than a museum, and we don't even want to use that word. We're going to create an emotionally immersive and engaging journey through LGBTQ cultures: past, present, and the potential future. This will be done using the latest in interactive technology and display techniques.
I've helped to create theme park attractions, interactive museum exhibits, and educational games for Disney, GameWorks, Idealab, Port Discovery Children's Museum, California Academy of Science, and USC Interactive Media Research. My undergraduate degree is in architecture from Cornell and my MFA is in Interactive Media from USC Film School. I'm honored to bring these creative skills and professional experiences to my community.
Weekly: Why is it important for people in the gay community, especially younger folks in the community, to know LGBT history?
Bottini: They will know the rich heritage that they come from and therefore understand and know themselves better than previous generations of gay folks. It's a grounding experience that's needed.
Weekly: You'll need to do a lot of fund raising. Why should someone give money, possibly major money, to build and maintain the museum?
Bottini: Every great culture passes down the stories of their heritage. We are a unique culture that is everywhere, but for thousands of years we've been hidden from view. Gay folks that contribute, especially wealthy gays and lesbians in Los Angeles, will help build a tangible representation of our role on the planet. It's very exciting, and needed.
For more information, you can reach Andy Sacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.