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University of Oregon museum exhibit brings the history of Eugene's lesbian community to the present day

Visitors gather at the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Jasmine Lewin
Visitors gather at the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Rainbow flags mark the latest exhibit at the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History. It’s to celebrate Eugene’s lesbian legacy.

In partnership with the UO’s Eugene Lesbian History Project, the museum presents a comprehensive history of the city’s lesbian community through the years. The oral history portion alone has 83 different narrators.

72-year-old Enid Lefton is one of them. As someone who remembers the discrimination of the 1970s and 80s, she is well aware of the rise of homophobic backlash in the nation in recent years. She said this is just one reason why it’s important to share this history with today’s generation.

“The young people I’ve talked to are so moved by it, and they see their own lives," she said. "I look at all the things represented in this exhibit that I’ve been involved in, and I’m not as active now as I used to be. But I think I’m still making a change. I’m still doing something. You know, I’m still contributing, even just by being here and telling my stories.”

The exhibit will run through 2023. For those unable to make it in person, there’s also a digital exhibit available online, alongside an archive and documentary.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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