Jun 15 2024


1:00 pm - 2:30 pm



Cemetery Speaker Series: Leonard Matlovich, A Purple Heart

Cemetery Speaker Series: Leonard Matlovich, a Purple Heart.
Saturday, June 15th, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Tickets: $5
“I believe that we must be the same activists in our deaths that we were in our lives.” – Leonard Matlovich 1987
Along with its other claims to fame, why, when, and how did Congressional Cemetery become even more historic for attracting a still-growing number of out LGBTQ+ residents; the largest known in the world, and a distinction so exceptional that even mainstream media repeatedly wonder at it?
June’s guest speaker, gay historian Michael Bedwell, will describe its origins in legendary Paris cemetery Père Lachaise and detail the reasons why his late friend, former Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, the first service member to purposely out himself to fight the American military’s ban on gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, chose Congressional over Arlington.
Michael will also discuss the significance of Historic Congressional Cemetery as the location of not just Leonard’s internationally iconic stone but also the Veterans Administration cenotaph for Leonard’s mentor and the father of the modern gay rights movement Frank Kameny, and the final resting place of additional Movement pioneers.
Keynote remarks will take place inside the Chapel, and the walking tour will take place on the grounds. After his remarks, Bedwell will be joined by one of our docents for a tour of HCC’s LGBTQ+ graves, culminating in a wreath laying at Leonard Matlovich’s grave.
Please come prepared with comfortable clothing and shoes, as the tours often stray from the main paths.
Tickets are $5 and reservations are suggested.


1801 E St SE, Washington, District of Columbia 20003