Metro Weekly

Gone, Never Forgotten

Remembering the Southeast businesses

Members of the GLBT community and allies are invited to attend ”Before the Ballpark: Remembering What We Had in SE,” at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Charles Sumner School Museum, 1201 17th St. NW, to share stories about the strip of gay businesses that were wiped out to make way for the city’s baseball stadium.

”It’s meant less to be a historical presentation than an opportunity for people to come together, remember what was there, talk about what they remember and how they feel,” says Mark Meinke of the Rainbow History Project, the group that co-organized the event with The D.C. Center.

Meinke says the idea to hold the event came from a conversation he had with a friend who is earning a doctorate at the University of Maryland and writing a dissertation on the stadium’s displacement of businesses and its impact on various communities, including the GLBT community.

”I started thinking that it might be appropriate before all the hoopla begins…to remember what was there,” Meinke says of the bars, clubs and strip clubs that are now gone, some of which had operated for nearly 30 years.

The event will also include a panel discussion, including Carl Rizzi of the Academy of Washington, among others.

”We’re going to invite [the audience] to stand up and talk about what they remember and reflect on what they lost [after the panelists speak],” Meinke says. ”It’s meant to be a time of remembrance…. It’s one of the things that Rainbow History does. We’re about preserving the community’s memories.”