Donald F. Schwamb, known to everyone as Don Schwamb, was perhaps a typical 50's child dealing with coming out as gay. He remembers telling his parents when he was 12, "I don't like girls, I like boys". This of course caused them to threaten to take him to a doctor, but Don stuck to his convictions even at that age, and when he told his parents essentially the same thing at age 18, it "stuck"- and they accepted him and his friends from then on (with natural reservations).
Don remembers first becoming involved in Milwaukee gay life in the late 1960's. He scoured the newspapers and made some phone calls, and decided to attend a meeting of the Gay People's Union (GPU), which was scheduled to meet in the basement of a church on the east side of Milwaukee. He remembers driving to the meeting, and circling the block several times: Are there any police cars around? Will anyone see me? Is anyone else going in? After parking and screwing up his courage, Don decided to go in.
Over time, Don became active in many gay community organizations. He would serve for over 8 years on the board of Milwaukee GAMMA (social and sports group), including one year as President. He served over 10 years on the Board of the Cream City Foundation (CCF), including 8 years as President. We was one of the driving forces in spinning off the Milwaukee AIDS Project (MAP) from BESTD Clinic and founding the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
More recently, he has been active in areas of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, and a BESTD Clinic counseling and testing volunteer. And he has been the driving force of the Milwaukee LGBT History Project, this web site being his brainchild and pet project. He is also a co-founder of the Milwaukee Guerrilla Gay Bar social group.
In 2015-2016, Don collaborated with Michail Takach, who curated "LGBT Milwaukee", an 'Images of Modern America' book celebrating Milwaukee's gay and lesbian heritage over the past 75 years. Don also wrote the Foreword for the book.
(An index to the book, and links to reviews and interviews with the author, is available at this link: Book Index.)
Magic picnic, Madison, 1987
with partner Gary; Agawa Canyon, 1988
Written by Don Schwamb in autobiographical form.
Web site design and format by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: April, 2016.
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