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Library of Congress Acquires Papers of Gay Pioneer Lilli Vincenz

By Daniel Reynolds

The Library of Congress announced today its acquisition of the papers of Lilli Vincenz, a trailblazer for the LGBT rights movement.

Vincenz, 75, joins a pantheon of presidents, civil rights leaders, and other historic luminaries whose works are deemed historically important by the nation’s oldest cultural insitution. Her papers include personal diaries as well as photographs, pamphlets, articles, and other ephemera recording the rise of the gay rights movement in the 20th century.

A documentarian, Vincenz created the short film, The Second Largest Minority, which recorded the 1968 Annual Reminder in Philadelphia, one of the earliest LGBT demonstrations in the United States. She also trained her lens on another crucial moment: the first Pride parade in New York City, which took place one year after the Stonewall Riots. Her footage has been used in several documentaries, including Before Stonewall, After Stonewall, and Gay Pioneers.

In her youth, Vincenz enlisted with the Women’s Army Corps and was discharged after being outed by a roommate. A member of the Mattachine Society of Washington, she also helped organize the 1971 congressional campaign for Frank Kameny, the first openly gay man to run for public office in the U.S.

When interviewed by The Washington Post about her donation of materials, Vincenz disputed the word “donation.”

“The word ‘donation’ doesn’t really resonate with me,” said Vincenz, who currently lives in Arlington with her partner of 29 years, Nancy Davis. “I just think of giving to people what will be helpful.”

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