Atlanta Cyclorama to host panel on gay relationships during Civil War

Gay soldiers during the Civil War? Absolutely. And the Atlanta Cyclorama wants you to learn more about this time in U.S. history with a panel discussion co-sponsored by Georgia Equality and Atlanta Pride on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.  Note: The day and time has been changed to Oct. 5 at 3 p.m.

The panel discussion, “Same-Gender Loving Men and Women in Blue and Gray,” will be followed by a Q&A.

The anti-gay policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” wasn’t the beginning of a complicated relationship between LGBTQ people and the military, explains Camille Russell Love, executive director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“As we continue our commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta we want to make sure we include as many different voices as possible,” says Love in a press release.

The Atlanta Cyclorama is located in Grant Park near the Atlanta Zoo but will be relocated to the Atlanta History Center next year.

The program will use documents, letters, and mixed media to explore gay men and some who lived during the Civil War.

Those on the panel and their bios from the press release:

• Dr. Leslie M. Harris is associate professor of History and African American Studies at Emory University. She is the author of the award-winning In the “Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863”; and co-editor with Ira Berlin of “Slavery in New York,” which accompanied the groundbreaking New York Historical Society exhibition of the same name. She recently completed “Slavery and Freedom in Savannah,” co-edited with Daina Ramey Berry and in collaboration with Telfair Museums of Savannah. Harris is currently working on a number of book projects: including a book on late-20th century New Orleans; co-edited volumes on slavery and the university and slavery and sexuality; and two books on slavery and manhood in the antebellum South.

During the Atlanta Cyclorama panel presentation, Dr. Harris will discuss male/female relationships in general during the mid-nineteenth century. She also will talk about the social mores of the times that guided social and intimate behavior.

• Stephen Maglott attended Parson’s School of Design while working for the United Nations as a researcher to the UN Commission on Apartheid. After that he worked at the Men Of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) Project, a Rochester, New York, based HIV/AIDS prevention and case management program serving the needs of gay black men. MOCHA Project made history when it hosted the first Statewide Summit of Black Gay service providers in 2000.

In 2013, Maglott began Ubuntu Biography Project after realizing how few resources exist to pay tribute to the remarkable lives and contributions of SGL/LGBT/Queer men and women of African descent. The project has created biographical tributes to approximately 350 individuals around the world, and is exploring ways that this resource can be used by educators, historians and others.

Maglott is currently director of correspondence for State Senator and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the highest ranking African-American and female leader in New York State government.

For his part in the Atlanta Cyclorama panel discussion, Maglott will present a case study about a same-gender female relationship between two free African-American women, using letters to give information about the context of this relationship.

• Michael Amico is PhD candidate in American Studies at Yale University. He is currently writing a dissertation about the love between a chaplain and a major in the American Civil War. His focus on the emotional and psychological experience of the everyday aims to show how their relationship furthered the American political experiment of perpetual union. His book “You Can Tell Just By Looking: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People” (co-authored with Michael Bronski and Ann Pellegrini) was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for LGBT Nonfiction.

During the Atlanta Cyclorama panel, Amico is going to talk about the same-gender relationship between two Union soldiers, one a general and the other an enlisted soldier. He has uncovered letters between these two men, and will talk about his research of the relationship.

The Cyclorama is no stranger to being a place for LGBT issues to be discussed. In May, the John Q collective presented “The Campaign for Atlanta: An Essay on Queer Migration” and used the Atlanta Cyclorama museum’s mural as a metaphor for queer migration.