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New Library Gift Tells Story of Gay Memphis

Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

Vincent Astor didn't like smoky bars. But in the 1970s, that's where Memphis' gay community met up. He knew that to create a more tolerant city, he'd first have to be out and outspoken himself. Thus began his decades-long activism in the local gay rights movement. Along the way, he stashed away thousands of cultural documents, which are now available for viewing at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.


The collection contains newspapers, newsletters, flyers, theater programs and other printed materials related to Memphis GLBT activities over the last four decades.

He said the materials filled seven large storage bins. Now cataloged and archived in the Memphis Room of the main library, the papers could be useful for future research into the history of LGBT Memphis.

Astor will speak about his collection at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 19 in the Memphis Room (Fourth Floor) of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.