Razer leading the charge for answers on why the display was removed
Several colorful placards stood in the first floor of the Capitol, detailing how men and women in Kansas City paved the way for LGBTQ rights in Missouri and across the country. But the display, meant to be up through the rest of the year, didn’t last a week.
The “Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights” traveling exhibit, made by students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was expected to remain in the Capitol from Aug. 27-Dec. 26 but was removed on Sept. 1, according to a social media post.
A Missouri State Parks employee told The Missouri Times they were “ordered to take it down” so “it was removed” but could not provide additional information.
The Governor’s Office said the display was removed because proper procedure was not followed. A statement said:
“Governor Parson was not aware of the display at the Missouri State Museum that detailed the history of the LGBTQ community in Missouri. Governor Parson’s office became aware of the display after receiving several complaints regarding the display. The Department of Natural Resources manages the Museum and state statute requires the Department to coordinate activities relating to the Museum with the Board of Public Buildings. The statutorily mandated process was not followed in this instance, thereby, causing the Department of Natural Resources to remove the display.”
Connie Patterson, director of communications for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the Capitol’s museum, confirmed the display was “moved from the Capitol” but said she couldn’t speculate on if an attempt would be made to reinstate the display.
Sen. Greg Razer, the only openly gay member of the upper chamber, said he was “extremely disappointed and angry” that the exhibit was prematurely removed. A Democrat who represents part of Jackson County, Razer is leading the charge to find out just what happened to have the display taken down early.
“It is in no way offensive or controversial,” Razer told The Missouri Times in an interview. “It in no way surprises me that there are members who would take offense to my history. But the story told in that exhibit is the reason I am able to be a senator today. If not for the work of those men and women years ago, we would not be at a point today where I am a respected member of the Missouri state Senate.”
“There are members who are actively working to dismiss Missouri’s history and the history of my community. It is personally offensive to me,” Razer continued.
The displays described how police would raid known restaurants and bars that were known to be friendly to gay and lesbian people, arresting or beating patrons. One panel taught about the early gay rights organizations which helped give people an identity. Another showed how people created places of community when there were none previously.
A Facebook post from a legislative aid celebrating the removal of the display credited Reps. Ann Kelley and Brian Seitz with getting it taken down. The post decried taxpayer money “pushing the LGBT agenda in our state Capitol.”
In an interview, Seitz, a Republican from Taney County, said he had reached out to Tiffany Patterson, director of the Missouri State Museum, to inquire about why the exhibit was placed but never heard back from her. Other lawmakers cited in the post said they were not actually involved with the display’s removal.
This story has been updated with a comment from the Governor’s Office.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.