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  WINDY CITY TIMES

'LGBT Milwalkee' project earns first round of funding
-- From a press release. LGBT Milwaukee history video below
2022-05-06

This article shared 562 times since Fri May 6, 2022
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Milwaukee, WI. - Thanks to generous financial support, the LGBT MILWALKEE project has achieved its first round of fundraising goals and will launch a local walking tour app on Thursday, June 1.

"To date, we've received over $28,000 through donations and corporate sponsorships," said project founder Dr. Brice Smith. "We are deeply grateful for everyone believing in us and making this app experience possible for everyone."

LGBT MILWALKEE has named its first corporate sponsors: GE Healthcare, Lakefront Brewery, The Tool Shed and Bronze Optical.

Gratitude for a generous community

Nearly $2,500 in personal donations have been received via the project's GoFundMe page. Additional tax-deductible gifts are being accepted by 501c3 fiscal agent FORGE, which Dr. Smith has been working with for over 20 years. Donations can be made at the FORGE website and earmarked for the app project.

"We've received funding from such disparate sources — LGBTQ philanthropists, business allies, everyday citizens — this speaks to the value of history and the collective power of our community."

All contributors will receive special recognition on the app itself. Corporate sponsors will appear on the app start page, and all individual donors of $100 and more will be listed in the About section. Donors can choose to be named, remain private, or make a memorial or tribute gift in someone else's name.

"Putting sponsors front and center isn't just good manners," said Dr. Smith. "It's intentional. We want users to see that present-day businesses value the LGBTQ community and our history, and to know our city's leaders in LGBTQ equity."

"We will work with our sponsors on promotions, launch events, speaking engagements, guided tours, and more. We want to help those who help us!"

Celebrating diverse and colorful stories

While over 100 potential sites were identified for the project, the app will launch with 22 sites and three walking tours (Birth of the Movement, Gayborhoods that are Gone and Yesterday's Walker's Point.) Two expansion tours — The Bad Lands and Black Bar Pioneers — will be added when additional funds are raised.

"We're telling stories," said Dr. Smith. "It's not like cracking open a history textbook and reading a bunch of words about boring facts."

"We're using sites to tell the stories of the LGBTQ people, organizations and events that transformed and transfixed our beloved city. We're doing it in a way that feels like sitting with a friend at a bar, or going through an old photo album with your aunt or uncle, or looking in the mirror and liking what you see. And it is LGBTQ Milwaukee through and through."

After downloading the app, users will have their choice of multiple, self-guided walking tours with unique location markers. Each location will include a present-day photo of the site, as well as a 2-3 minute narrated video sharing the site's LGBTQ story. These mini-documentaries will provide a rich multimedia experience that can be enjoyed time and again.

View a sample tour site created for the story of James Blunt, wife-stealing, heart-breaking, heavy-drinking, cigar-smoking ladies man of the 1890s — who was eventually arrested for the crime of being a biological woman himself. At his sensational trial, Blunt became famous — but ultimately vanished from history. LGBT MILWALKEE celebrates James Blunt as the trans pioneer he was.

"I'm hopeful that our successful launch will lead to more funding, so we can pursue even more compelling and vital stories such as these," said Dr. Smith. "I look forward to working with community elders, leaders and icons, like Janice Colby, to document and preserve what has always been an oral history within a closed community. Together, we can save their stories for future generations to know."

James Blunt, Gigolo the Bad Lands

LGBT MILWALKEE will make its PrideFest debut on Friday, June 3 at 6 p.m. on the Stonewall Stage. In addition, Dr. Smith and team will showcase the app at their Health & Wellness table from June 2 to June 4.

"Recent political events have only motivated our team to do more," said Dr. Smith. "The idea that LGBTQ history might be erased, censored, or filtered through a conservative view of what is and is not appropriate history is deeply disturbing. This approach isolated, separated and demoralized our LGBTQ ancestors specifically to keep them in line. No more. The LGBT MILWALKEE app is a lifeline to generations of history and heritage, right in the palm of your hand. We are telling our own stories, by LGBTQ people for LGBTQ people. We are here to be a lifeline."

Dr. Smith thanks his all-LGBTQ development team for sharing and chasing the vision of LGBT MILWALKEE every day: Ashley Altadonna, Aimee Gironimi, Michail Takach and Robert McCarthy.

"I didn't know what to expect when we started this," said Dr. Smith. "I'd never created an app nor headed a fundraising effort before. There's been a lot of trial of error, highs and lows."

"But in the end, we've created something really special and unique to our city."

Additional launch updates will be released on Thursday, June 1.



This article shared 562 times since Fri May 6, 2022
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