Independent. Inspired. Relentless.
Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project
Welcome to the web site chronicling the History of the Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual/ Transgender Community in Wisconsin

Documenting the History of the LGBTQ Community in Wisconsin

Our mission is to reconnect Wisconsin with its lost heritage and hidden history, through ongoing research, presentations, publications, walking tours, and online resources.

Since 1994, the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project has been documenting, preserving and celebrating the heritage of local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Today, we are the state's largest digital repository of LGBTQ media.

We are an independent, self-funded, volunteer-operated, not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to reconnect Wisconsin with its lost heritage and hidden history, through ongoing research, presentations, publications, walking tours, and online resources. We offer all of these services at no cost to the community.

recent updates

Deceased Community Leaders

By Don Schwamb - December 1, 2023

We are sad to have had to create Biography pages for two recently deceased leaders in the Milwaukee bar scene. Early in November, Jerry Breiling had passed away; he was co-owner of KRUZ bar, and had previously worked at the Wreck Room, M&M Club, and Harbor Room bars. Then late in the same month, Ron 'Rona' Thate passed away; he was a longtime bartender at the M&M Club and then Boom/ The Room bar, and co-founder of several choral groups. We had just two weeks previous to his death sat down for an extensive interview with 'Rona', who at the time seemed to be in fine health. This is an example of the importance of documenting people before they are gone, in order to preserve their knowledge.

New Bar pages

By Don Schwamb - November 14, 2023

Through research and reader contribution, we have been able to create new info pages for 4 bars. These include  'Kollege Klub' (Madison, 1963-1984), 'Teddy's' (Milw 1973-1985), 'Artony's' (Milw 1980-1984),  and 'Tattoo's' (La Crosse, 1982-1989).

Notable Deaths

By Don Schwamb - September 13, 2023

This website is about historical events, not recent history. But when the serious illness or death of someone very notable to Wisconsin’s LGBTQ history occurs, we of course try to create or update a Biographical page about that person. We are sad to have had to create pages recently for Chuckie Betz (death) and Carl Szatmary (ill), and update the page for Jamie Hernandez (death).

Fond du Lac Bars

By Don Schwamb - August 12, 2023

A visitor to the web site caused us to look into a Fond du Lac LGBTQ bar that had been puzzling us- and thus we have recently created a web page for Fond du Lac bar, Myrna’s, which was also variously known as Carry’s and Sabrina’s.

Oshkosh Bars

By Don Schwamb - June 30, 2023

We had inspiration recently to dig into LGBTQ bars that have existed in the Oshkosh area over the past years. We have recently created or updated web pages for Oshkosh bars such as After Dark Lounge, Club 1226, and PJ’s.

The Queer Program

By Don Schwamb - March 10, 2023

A cable access program, The Queer Program, ran for 25 years on Milwaukee Warner-Cable channel 14, presenting live news, interview and call-in programs for the LGBTQ community, from 1992 to 2017. Its primary producer and host throughout the entire run, Michael Lisowski and its original co-producer and co-host Dan Fons, are also profiled.

historical archive

This section organizes our findings into the 5 major categories indicated.

At this point the major content exists in early website format (static HTML pages), which over time will be converted to match the new formatting of these Home pages and incorporate newer discoveries. Until that time, our archived findings are available here.

Click on one of the 5 categories to explore those areas, or go directly to the full archive at the button below.

SPONSORSHIP

SPONSORSHIP

The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project is pleased to work with many community organizations and individuals that contribute to the knowledge presented within this site.

Our Sponsors

We are pleased to acknowledge the very generous and outstanding support of the Eldon E Murray Foundation Fund for this new website.  Eldon Murray was one of Milwaukee's most notable early LGBT activists, and we are especially honored by the confidence placed in us by the advisors of that Fund ( as administered by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. )

We have also received generous donations from the CCF's Valentine Fund ( thank you Michael Johnston ), and from the G/L Community Fund (thank you Si Smits).

Fiscal Sponsorship

The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project Inc. is pleased to be a sponsored project of the Cream City Foundation, Inc., one of the country's longest-running LGBT foundations, building Health, Equity and Prosperity within the LGBT community.

We are able to accept tax-exempt donations through CCF as our 501c3 fiscal agent.

latest news

Read all the latest Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project News & Articles.

October 09, 2023

Celebrate National LGBT History Month

Join Mayor Cavalier Johnson, representatives from the Governor's Office, Milwaukee County Executive's Office and Milwaukee Common Council, and The HIVE employer resource group for our annual dedication of National LGBT History Month.


October 09, 2023

Explore Seven Generations of Glamour

Join authors Michail Takach and BJ Daniels for an immersive presentation, Q&A, and book signing in honor of National LGBT History Month.


October 08, 2023

Black Nite is named Wisconsin’s first LGBTQ landmark

On Monday, Nov. 14, the Milwaukee County Landmarks Committee unanimously approved historic landmark designation for the site of the Black Nite Uprising (400 N. Plankinton Ave.,) the first documented act of LGBTQ resistance in Wisconsin history.


October 08, 2023

Forever Young celebrates connectivity of 21-below nightlife

The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project, in partnership with the History Press, recently announced the launch of its next book project, "Forever Young,” celebrating Wisconsin's "teen club" culture of the 1980s.


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latest blog posts

February 20, 2024 | B.J. Daniels

Harry James Hanson: the trouble with Harry

February 20, 2024 | Diane Gregory

Bill Wardlow: celebrating the power of community

February 20, 2024 | Michail Takach

Chuck King: from Wisconsin to Wilton Manors