By Peter Woodburn
For Vashon Heritage Museum
When the Vashon Heritage Museum opened its exhibit, “IN and OUT: Being LGBTQ on Vashon Island,” back on June 7, 2019, nearly 600 community members showed up for a celebration. Now, two years later, the museum is throwing a closing party at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, as the exhibit’s time in the museum comes to an end.
“IN and OUT’s impact extended beyond its exhibition,” said Elsa Croonquist, executive director of the Vashon Heritage Museum. “During its time on the island, the exhibit helped support and develop a scholarship for Vashon High School Queer Youth, the Queer Film series, speaker programs, and Dana Schuerholz’s photography exhibit ‘This is What Activism Looks Like.’”
The closing celebration will feature light refreshments, a lesbian hat fashion show featuring work created by Harstine Island artist Kathy Ross, and a DJ. It will also provide the community one last glimpse of the award-winning exhibit celebrating the long, quiet history of the LGBTQ community on Vashon-Maury Island.
The innovative exhibit depicts the stories of LGBTQ islanders as vignettes within cells that are part of the honeycombed beehive of the community. It also features an AIDS memorial garden, an interactive gender garden, and a closet with a soundscape that the visitor must pass through in order to access the exhibit. It also includes a timeline of international, national, state, and local events from 560 B.C. forward that puts Vashon’s queer history in context.
Although the show closes in September, the spirit of the exhibit will live on. The Vashon Pride Alliance established a $2,000 scholarship for queer students at Vashon High School, which was generously funded by a gift from Puget Sound Energy. Also, the celebrated Queer Film Series continues, with showings of “Saving Face” on Sept. 7 and “The Celluloid Closet” on Sept. 21, at Vashon Theatre. In addition, portions of the exhibit will be displayed at South Seattle College, and co-curator Stephen Silha says he is fielding calls from organizations around the nation about borrowing elements of the exhibit to help reflect on LGBTQ issues within their own communities.
More information about the exhibit, the Queer Film Series and the museum can be found at vashonheritagemuseum.org.