May 16, 2024

Shared Statement: our response to internship concerns

We need to address the concerns raised since Friday’s announcement of our new intern.

Please know that your voices have been heard loud and clear.

The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project has a mission to reconnect ALL of Wisconsin with its past to inspire its future. We are an all-volunteer organization that is actively seeking help – at every level of our organization – to research, document and celebrate local LGBTQ history. We believe that our history belongs to everyone – and in return, we are accountable for understanding and respecting the lived experiences of our entire community. We proudly acknowledge that black and brown people of trans experience ignited the liberation movement, both here in Milwaukee and around the nation, and without them, we would have no history or heritage to speak of. 

We also recognize that Milwaukee is one of the most hyper-segregated cities in America, and that Milwaukee County was the first local government in the nation to declare racism as a public health crisis.

As a community-first organization devoted to driving change through education, we will not tolerate racism, discrimination, bigotry, exclusion, or bullying in any form, at any time, directed towards anyone.

Over the past week, we have done our due diligence to investigate your concerns. 

We are aware that the issue originated with a “word art” chalkboard displayed in a public place at a local bar. We have confirmed that this artwork was vandalized several times between June and September to include offensive words and messages.  We’ve also confirmed that a racial slur appeared on this board and was reported directly to Anthony on September 30, 2023.  At that time, Anthony took immediate action to erase the entire artwork, have a 1:1 conversation with the individual, offer a personal apology and explanation, and shake on a satisfactory conclusion.  While Anthony thought he had resolved the situation, a social media firestorm ensued.

It is clear, even in shared social media photos, that this racial slur was an alteration to the original art. There are smudge marks around the letters, the lettering is a totally different style, and the image itself is mirrored. It is unclear why, when or how someone would have made these alterations, but there is no evidence that Anthony made any of these changes himself.

Throughout our investigation, we have found no other evidence of racist behaviors, statements, or expressions. We have received no testimonials of any other racist behaviors, statements, or expressions. 

So, we requested third party review by our trusted community partners, including Chris Allen of Diverse & Resilient, Ritchie Martin and Ricky Galaviz of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Ricardo Harris of the Milwaukee County Office of Equity, and Charlie Nash of Cream City Foundation.

 These agencies reviewed the complaints, closely examined the available facts, conducted their own research, and found no direct evidence of racist behavior.

As a result, we will be upholding Anthony’s summer internship.

Anthony qualified for the Nonprofit Internship program through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, received high recommendations from both his major departments and his academic advisor, applied for our internship program, and will be required to meet specific performance goals outlined by his instructors to obtain credit.   This unpaid position has been available for three years.  

A significant amount of his workload – and overall internship success -- will be meeting with, interviewing, and learning from people of color throughout Wisconsin. Through his summer assignment, he will be closely supervised to ensure that his behavior consistently reflects the ethics and values of our organization.

Anthony came to the History Project seeking an education, and we will ensure that he receives one. 

At the same time, we seek to learn and grow from this experience as well. To foster healing as we go-forward, we’ll be working with our trusted partners -- Cream City Foundation, Diverse & Resilient, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, and the Milwaukee County Office of Equity --  to build three sustainable solutions:

  1. Activating listening sessions and action planning workshops to effectively address divisive and disruptive behaviors as they occur;

  2. Amplifying opportunities for community collaboration, involvement, and elevation;

  3. Creating a consistent system for ethical and equitable community vetting of candidates for all internship positions prior to appointment.

Please know that there is a place for everyone at the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project. For 30 years, we have been an all-volunteer organization, and our survival is based entirely on volunteer talent and commitment. 

We are currently recruiting for all roles at all levels of our organization – from our Board of Directors to single-shift event staff throughout Wisconsin. We will also be recruiting interns for future semesters. Please join us on our journey to elevate everyone’s story in this rich, colorful, and diverse state we call home.

We are strongest when we are working together, and in this year of all years, we must work together.

Questions? Contact us at