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Copyright Louis Paul Hennefeld 1983.
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My emergence from the closet, many years ago, was a long and difficult experience. Positive role models were nonexistent. The publication of Jonathan Katz’s Gay American History in 1976 inspired me to begin compiling a list of famous gays and lesbians on stamps. Coincidentally, at this time the US Postal Service issued the Bicentennial souvenir sheets, including one portraying the ‘Surrender of Cornwallis’. This sheet was of particular interest to me because it included three men relevant to my fledgling collection: General von Steuben, Alexander Hamilton and his lover, Col. John Laurens. I realized then that there must be many homosexuals and bisexuals who have been honored on postage stamps.
Members of the American Topical Association, a philatelic organization, encouraged me to exhibit my collection, ‘Out of the Closet’, which enabled me to bring to a largely straight audience a positive view of our gay heritage. Sharing my findings with others has been greatly rewarding. Articles have appeared in Great Britain, Canada, India, Italy, Germany and the USA, and a segment highlighting the collection was shown on the BBC.
My exhibit is unique in philatelic circles. There is a diverse array of material, including a rare Sara Cover and two artist-signed proofs. The collection has won numerous gold awards at prestigious national stamp exhibitions.
Among the more noteworthy items are:
.Franked folded envelope signed twice, inside and outside, by Alexander Hamilton. Also, a Hamilton proof
and a Courthouse cover, 30 cent black.
.President James Buchanan ‘Free Frank’.
.Scarce Chinese souvenir sheet of Mei Lan Fang.
.WIPA semi-postal on cover depicting Schwind painting.
.Spain registered cover to New York with Manuel de Falla stamp and 1951 Caudillo cancellation.
.Imperforate errors: Pope Julius III, Willa Cather and Martina Navratilova.
My hope is that people viewing this collection will come to realize the significant contribution which these gay, lesbian and bisexual people have made to the advancement of society. Also, if this exhibit has made coming out of the closet a little easier for anyone then I have accomplished my goal. Louis Paul Hennefeld may be contacted at email@example.com
Copyright Louis Paul Hennefeld 1983