History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Media - Books

We Will Always Be Here:
A Guide to Exploring and Understanding the History of LGBTQ+ Activism in Wisconsin

Year published:



Jenny Kalvaitis and Kristen Whitson


In 2021, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press announced the release of its first book for teen readers on LGBTQ+ history, "We Will Always Be Here: A Guide to Exploring and Understanding the History of LGBTQ+ Activism in Wisconsin", by authors Jenny Kalvaitis and Kristen Whitson. The book presents examples of LGBTQ+ activism throughout Wisconsin’s history for young people to explore and discuss. Inspired by the history presented in R. Richard Wagner's two-volume Society Press series on gay history in Wisconsin, "We Will Always Be Here" draws from a rich collection of primary sources—including diary entries, love letters, zines, advertisements, oral histories, and more—to provide a jumping-off point for readers who are interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ history and activism.

The book shines a light on powerful and often untold stories, featuring individuals across a wide spectrum of identities and from all corners of the state. Featured LGBTQ+ people, allies, and activists changed their world by taking steps that young people can take today—by educating themselves, telling their own stories, being true to themselves, and building communities.

The book was published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The WHS Press had previously published R. Richard Wagner's two comprehensive books on Wisconsin's LGBT history: "We've Been Here All Along" and "Coming Out, Moving Forward".

A Book Launch was held on June 24, 2021 (via Zoom due to the COVID pandemic), cohosted by Milwaukee Pride, Woodland Pattern Book Center, and the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Authors Jenny Kalvaitis and Kristen Whitson led a teen panel discussion about the book and LGBTQ+ activism history in Wisconsin. Additional events were planned in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, La Crosse, Fox Cities, and statewide. An accompanying online educational resource and discussion guide was planned on the Wisconsin Historical Society website, as well as a WHS traveling exhibit highlighting the voices in "We Will Always Be Here" to tour schools, public libraries, and other community centers beginning in early 2022.

About the authors:

    Jenny Kalvaitis has a master’s degree in Public History from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and she has worked in informal education and museum education for over ten years.

    Kristen Whitson has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and she has worked in digital preservation, community and indigenous archives, and LGBTQ+ archives.



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Credits: All cover images and text copyrighted by the authors and publisher;
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Last updated: June-2022.

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