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KC Black LGBTQ icons, stories part of new coffee shop exhibit

After months of research new exhibit is on display at PH Coffee
Posted at 5:18 AM, Jun 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-26 14:18:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Inspired by Kansas City’s rich LGBTQ history, a Kansas City-based writer and artist decided to create an exhibit showcasing Black queer history inside a northeast coffee shop.

"Before this, all this information was sitting in boxes or people were holding onto photographs because they didn't think people cared about their history,” Nasir Montavlo explained.

Montalvo’s Black Queer Kansas City exhibit has been on display inside PH Coffee since the beginning of pride month. Montalvo said the project took months to complete and they partnered with UMKC's Gay and Lesbians Archives of Mid-America and the Kansas City Defender to make it happen.

The exhibit also brings to the forefront challenges and racism felt within the Black queer community through newspaper clippings and obituaries.

"A lot of these people died because of the AIDS [epidemic], it is very emotional, very overwhelming and it also speaks to how much of our history has been lost," Montavlo said.

It’s an exhibit that PH customers applaud, saying it draws parallels to challenges the LGBTQ community continues to face and the importance of seeing diversity.

“With everything going on in the country, queer people and people of color voices are stifled and trying to keep them quiet, so having that is more important now,” PH customer JB McCoy said.

Black Queer KC will be on display until the end of the month. Additional exhibits are in the works, according to Montavlo, focusing in on LGBTQ bars in KC and the impact the AIDS epidemic has had on Kansas City.