Willie Walker (February 11, 1949 – September 29, 2004)

Willie Walker, a founding member
of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender Historical Society
(GLBTHS), passed away on September
29, 2004. Walker was born in Fort
Worth, Texas in 1949. Like many of his
contemporaries, Walker became politically active
in the late 1960s. He developed an interest in
history and in the late 1970s helped establish the
Butte-Silver Bow Archives in Butte, Montana.
In 1981 Walker moved to San Francisco,
California and almost immediately joined the San
Francisco History Project, a group that included
Alan Berube, Jeffrey Escoffier, Gayle Rubin, and
other scholars. Walker’s own work focused on the
history of gay male erotica; his last publication
was an introduction for Lust Unearthed: Vintage
Gay Graphics from the DuBek Collection. At the
time of his death, Walker was working on a book
entitled Male Beauty: Great Photographers
of the Physical Culture and Physique
Movement, 1920 – 1970.
In 1985 Walker helped establish the Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, an
independent, community-based public history
organization. “We believe,” Walker wrote, “that if
queer people do not preserve our own history,
most of it will simply disappear.” Walker’s
dedication was remarkable: after earning a Masters
in Information and Library Sciences from U.C.
Berkeley, he served as the GLBTHS archivist; he
helped plan and wrote the guide for a microfilm
collection of Bay Area GLBT publications; led
workshops in archival methods; developed a
database (in conjunction with his friend Eric
Garber) of GLBT sites in San Francisco; assisted
thousands of researchers; and played a key role in
curating a number of GLBTHS exhibits including
“Making a Case for Community History,” and
“Queer and Kinky Danger: Art of San Francisco’s
Leather/SM/Kink Worlds.” Walker requested that
memorials be sent to the GLBTHS. For more
information visit www.glbthistory.org.