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Boston's LGBTQ+ History: Primary Sources and Government Documents

A guide to the historical resources about the LGBTQ+ community collected at the Boston Public Library

On This Page...

... You will find reports, studies, and  other documents created by various governmental or lobbying organizations regarding the Boston LGBTQ+ community, as well as databases of newspapers and other primary sources. If you know of an organization or source that you don't see here but think should be included, please let us know!

A Note on History and Identity

The constantly changing nature of social attitudes towards questions of sexual orientation and gender identity has, throughout history, drastically affected the way people self identify and present those identities to the world around them. The biographical subjects in this section may or may not have identified with a modern conception of the LGBTQ+ community, and applying modern labels to historical figures and behaviors is often difficult or counterproductive. As such, some of the biographical subjects listed here are those which are cited by published histories, academic research, or community traditions as being historical antecedents to the LGBTQ+ community of Boston today.

Government Documents

Founded in 1976 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National LGBTQ Task Force is an advocacy group which seeks to "advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people," according to the mission statement on their website. Over the years, as part of their advocacy and lobbying efforts, they have commissioned many reports on and guides to LGBTQ community life. Their website is

Fenway Health, founded in 1971 as the Fenway Community Health Center, is a Boston-based medical facility and advocacy organization that aims " enhance the wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy." In addition to providing direct medical services, Fenway Health has sponsored, initiated, and/or published many reports and studies on issues related to LGBTQ+ health in Boston and beyond. Their website is

While the resources presented here are not directly produced by government agencies, they have been created by organizations collaborating with government agencies, receiving government funding, or were published with the intent to advocate for governmental action, and as such have been cataloged as part of the BPL's Government Documents or Social Science collections. 

The Boston Project

In the early 1980s, long-serving Boston Mayor Kevin H. White began an initiative designed to bring more voices from the LGBTQ+ community into Boston municipal government. This initiative included a needs assessment of the community called "The Boston Project" and the hiring of a staff member with the job title "Mayor's Liaison to the Gay & Lesbian Community." The digitized records below, also available in the BPL's Government Documents collection, are reports and correspondence directly related to this effort. These documents grant a unique insight into the community and city government at a pivotal moment in history.

Newspapers and Periodicals

Archives of Sexuality & Gender

Many newspapers, newsletters, and other primary sources from Boston and beyond can be found in this database, which is a collaboration of several libraries and archives. This is often the best place to check first.

Notable Publications collected include: Bay Windows, Task Force Report, Gay Community News, Boston Gay Review, and the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter (Boston).

In Newsweekly Newspaper

"New England's largest gay & lesbian news & entertainment weekly."

Note that some issues of this newspaper are digitized through the Archives of Sexuality and Gender Database, but the BPL's physical collection on microfilm is more complete.

The Other Pages: A Business and Service Directory for the Lesbian and Gay Community

A Directory of LGBTQ+ -owned or -friendly businesses in the Washington DC area, published by Aviance Marketing

Gayellow Pages

A directory of Gay -owned or -friendly businesses across the United States and Canada. Acquired and merged with several other directories. Most recent copy kept at the research desk for reference.

New England, East Coast Community Guide for Gay Men & Lesbians

Also known as the Pink Pages, this guide to business and services focuses on New England and the East Coast. Most recent copy kept at the research desk for reference.

Other Sources