This series contains materials collected and created by Myra Lynn Cones and her wife, G. Yvonne Harris. The series includes photographs, emphemera, periodicals, magazines, programs and commemorative materials from musical groups (The Village People) and television shows (Queer as Folk) as well as materials relating to marches (A Simple Matter of Justice, 1993), the AIDS Quilt, the women's festival Sisterfire, and an original poem.
Biographical / Historical:
This short biography was submitted by the donors Myra Lynn Cones and G. Yvonne Harris in October 2022
"Short Biography from 1981-2022
We first met in 1980, at on a military base in Hampton, Virginia. We were both working at the Arts and Crafts Center. We became friends first, through our love of art and being artists ourselves.
Soon there after we discovered that this was not the first time we had met. While discussing one day about our lives in Hampton, we discovered that we went to the same kindergarten school, at the same time! The conversation started like this:
Yvonne: I went to Jones Kindergarten.
Myra: So, did I.
Yvonne: Do you remember the Humpty Dumpty play at the end of the year? I played one of the soldiers in the group.
Myra: Yep, I was a soldier too. Do you remember the Christmas party?
Yvonne: Yeah, I do.
Myra: Well, my dad played Santa.
That's when we knew this was too special to ignore.
In March of 1981 we moved in together as roommates. By May, we were a couple.
We were invited to our first lesbian bar, by a couple who could not believe in the three years we were together thus far, we had never been to one. We went to a place in Norfolk, Virginia called the Her She Bar. Funny how we describe the night like that scene in the Wizard of Oz, when the film is in black and white and the door of the bar opened up and there was color. And that was the start of our foray into the Gay and Lesbian scene in the 80's.
We came out to our family in the 80's. Considering both of us coming from Christian raised families, they did very well with their acceptance.
We became part of the community, by participating in art shows at the local women's bars, and women events at the local college. Later we ventured outside the area to do shows at other women's events in Norfolk, Richmond, and the famous Women's festival Sisterfire.
We decided that we wanted to move to Washington DC, because there was an active artists and LGBT community. We both worked retail, we found that we could transfer through our companies.
In 1990, we both moved to Washington DC. While starting out in DC Yvonne had a part-time job at the well known LGBT bookstore Lambda Rising, owned by Deacon MacCububbin, and then Lammas Women Bookstore, owned and operated by Mary Farmer. We were learning about the community, participating in Pride events, and living our best LGBT life. We stayed for 10 years in a little one-bedroom apartment and later bought our first home in 2000.
After Washington DC legalized gay marriage in 2010, We decided to jump the broom. We were first going to have the ceremony done at the justice of the peace. But remembered that we had a client, who was a patron of our work who was not only clergy, but was also Lesbian. We contacted the Reverend Bonnie Berger. Reverend Bonnie conducted many weddings, and after the announcement of legalized marriages came through, she was indeed a busy woman. So, we gave her a date and she was ready to do the ceremony on May 9, 2010. We had a boat at the time, and thought that having the ceremony at the marina would be great. So, we had our boat at the dock and the guests on the pier. Not only did the invited guess come, but we were surprised to see all the folks we knew at the marina, our fellow boaters. The guys and their wives and girlfriends showed up for support and love.
As of this year 2022, we have been together 41 years. And we have enjoyed being in the city, in the heart of the artistic world, galleries, and museum that continues to feed our creativity, and seeing the advances that have been made in rights and visibility in the LGBTQ community. We've seen a lot in these 40 odd years. One doesn't realize that until you have a conversation with a 20 something year old young gay man, who looks at you in astonishment when they discover that you've been an out lesbian in the 80's.
Co-worker: How long have you two been together
Yvonne: We've been together 41 years, married for 12
Co-worker: (eyes wide) Wow, that long. That was at a time when it was hard, being out in the 80's. Was it scary?
That is how far we've come. Wizard of Oz, black and white to color!"
The collection is open for research use.
Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution