Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
Brian J. Bergquist Papers, 1968-1998
- Brian J. Bergquist Papers
- 1968-1998 (inclusive)19681998
- 4 linear feet, (8 boxes)
- Collection Number
- MSS 176
- Correspondence, writings, organizational files, subject files, clippings, photos, and other papers, documenting Bergquist's activism on behalf of gay rights in Boise, Idaho, in the 1990s; together with personal memorabilia of Bergquist and his partner, John C. Hummel. Includes material relating to Bergquist's leadership positions in Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors (YFFN), Don't Sign On, and No On One Coalition; his role in organizing the first Gay Pride parades in Boise; and the statewide campaign which Bergquist co-chaired against Proposition One, the anti-gay initiative, 1993-1994. Personal memorabilia includes his personal journal (1979-1980) from his college days at Northwestern University with reflections on his sexuality, written before he came out; his coming-out letter to his parents (1989); and scripts he wrote in college and in Hollywood. Some of the subject and organizational files were compiled jointly by Bergquist and John C. Hummel.
Boise State University Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
1910 University Drive
- Access Restrictions
Collection is available for research.
- Funding for encoding a portion of this finding aid was provided, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Brian Joel Bergquist was born on July 2, 1958, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, son of Reuben and Joan Bergquist. He grew up in Council Bluffs, where he won awards for debate and public speaking, acted in student plays, and served as student body president at Abraham Lincoln High School. In 1975 he moved to Evanston, Illinois, to attend Northwestern University and graduated in 1980 with a degree in communication, concentrating in radio, television, and film. While a student at Northwestern he went to work in its student center, and after graduation, from 1980 to 1984, was its facility and events manager. He was also active in theater, film, and radio work in the Chicago area. He developed weekly radio specialty shows for WNUR-FM, organized and produced for a student-run video production group, and designed and directed scenic and lighting installations for theater productions. Infected with the Hollywood bug, he moved to southern California in 1984 went to work in production there. He was in Hollywood only three years, however, before he applied for the position of assistant director and coordinator of conference services in the Student Union at Boise State University in Idaho. He wrote to the student union's new director, a former colleague freshly hired from Northwestern University: "You may wonder why I am interested in the position at Boise State University after leaving the staff at Norris Center to try my luck in Hollywood. To be blunt, I don't find the work here to be as personally or professionally satisfying....I miss the vitality, the inspiration, and the stimulation of being part of a University community."
Bergquist was hired at Boise State and went to work as part of the administrative team in the Student Union in 1987. He also quickly immersed himself in the activities of the local gay community. He was a founder of the advocacy and lobbying group, Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors (YFFN) and led the effort to organize the first Gay Pride parade through the city in 1990. Although the gay community in Boise had celebrated Gay Pride Week with a picnic and other low-key activities for several years, it had never staged such a public event. "The very idea of a Gay Pride Parade sends chills down the back of many in Boise...," he wrote in the November 1989 issue of Out!, Boise's gay newspaper. "But why a Gay Pride Parade?" He enumerated the reasons. "A Gay Pride Parade would create a focus for the community. It would create a spectacle. It would create momentum. It would create visibility. It would create controversy. It would create interest. It would cry out to the greater Boise community that we are here and we exist and we deserve to be able to have our day in the sun." He continued: "A Gay Pride Parade will help us to understand that we are part of a larger, national movement. A movement that is making progress. We are not an isolated island, but part of the great tide of human diversity." The parade was held in June 1990, with an estimated 350 marchers, the first of what became an annual event.
Three years after that first parade, a reaction to the growing visibility of the gay community came with the organization of a petition drive by a newly-formed group called the Idaho Citizens Alliance to place what was termed the anti-gay initiative on the ballot at the next general election. The initiative addressed a wide range of issues, from pro-gay books in public libraries to references to homosexuality in the classroom. Bergquist led the statewide effort to defeat the initiative, first as co-chair of the organization Don't Sign On, which urged citizens not to sign the initiative petition, and then through the No on One Coaltion, which campaigned against it once it was placed on the 1994 ballot as Proposition One. With a broad coalition of support, the proposition was defeated at the polls, though only by the slim margin of 3,000 votes statewide.
Brian Bergquist died of a sudden heart attack four years later during Gay Pride Week in Boise in 1998. He was memorialized by tributes in Boise's daily newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, and in the pages of Boise's gay newspaper, Diversity. A student lounge in the Boise State University Student Union was named for him. A wall display of photos, newspaper articles, and other items commemorates his life there. He was survived by his mother, a brother, and his partner of nine years, John C. Hummel.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The Brian J. Bergquist Papers contains consists chiefly of personal papers and papers relating to his gay activism in Boise. It contains memorabilia from his high school and college days, his three years in Hollywood, and the files he amassed as a leader of Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors (YFFN), Don't Sign On, and the No On One Coalition in Boise. The YFFN and Don't Sign On files document the activities of those organization but also include subject files on related topics, collected jointly by Bergquist and his partner John C. Hummel. The collection also contains some personal memorabilia from John C. Hummel.
Brian Bergquist was a writer as well as an activist, and the collection includes numerous versions of scripts he wrote, both in college and in Hollywood. Also found within the collection are writings of a personal, introspective nature. Those include his coming-out letter to his parents in1989 (Box 1, Folder 7), written from Boise as he approached his 31st birthday, and also his journal from his college days, 1979-1980 (Box 2), with his thoughts about his sexuality, how' it impacted his personal relationships, and the complications of living his life at that time "in the closet" (as he termed it), out only to his closest friends. His writings chronicle his personal journey from recognition of his sexual preference and reflections about it to his emergence as a leader in the gay rights movement.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
[item description], Brian J. Bergquist Papers, Box [number] Folder [number], Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Collection is arranged in five series: 1. Personal papers; 2. Scripts and stories; 3. Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors; 4. Don't Sign on; and 5. Papers of John C. Hummel.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Series 1: Personal PapersReturn to Top
The personal papers in this series were donated by Joan Bergquist in 2002 and by John C. Hummel in 2004. Each folder is marked to distinguish the source.
Tributes and obituaries
Resumes; College transcript
Personality profiles and assessments
Recollections by his mother, Joan Bergquist (2 pages)
Correspondence: Letters to parents
Correspondence: Letters to parents
Correspondence: Coming out letter to parents
Correspondence: Letter from his father, Reuben Bergquist
Correspondence: Letters received, Michael P. Quinlan
Correspondence: Letters received, Miscellaneous
Correspondence: Cards received, Miscellaneous
Awards and certificates
Early political activism papers
High school papers
High school memorabilia and clippings
High school memorabilia: Drama
High school memorabilia: Yearbook pages (photocopies)
American Legion Boys State
VFW Voice of Democracy speech and memorabilia
College memorabilia (Northwestern University)
Memorabilia (so identified by Brian Bergquist)
Memorabilia: Ticket stubs
Memorabilia: Membership cards and licenses
Collected poetry and quotations
Post Sound (Hollywood): Letters of application
Boise State University: Miscellaneous
Boise State University: Application letters
Boise State University: Evaluations
Graphic design examples
The Community Center (Boise)
Clippings: Gay activism, Boise
Clippings: Human rights activism
Reference to his death in anti-gay article, and editorial response
Photos: Confronting Lon Mabon in the Idaho State Capitol
Notepad, spiral bound
Notepad, spiral bound
Tributes in Diversity (full issue)
Association of College Unions Inquirer (bulletin of regional conference held at Boise State)
Northwestern University Class of 1980 freshman face book
John C. Hummel papers, see below Series 5
Series 2: Scripts and StoriesReturn to Top
Container(s): Box 3
Play scripts and stories written by Brian Bergquist
Series 3: Your Family, Friends, and NeighborsReturn to Top
Container(s): Box 4-5
Papers from Bergquist's work with the lobbying and gay rights organization in Boise.
Series 4: Don't Sign OnReturn to Top
Container(s): Box 6-8
Files, 1992-1994, compiled by Bergquist and his partner John C. Hummel while working with Don't Sign On and the No On One Coalition to defeat Proposition One on the Idaho ballot in 1994.
Series 5: Papers of John C. HummelReturn to Top
Personal memorabilia of John C. Hummel, plus a file relating to his work as a member and president of the Idaho AIDS Foundation, 1990-1991. They are filed in Box 2, with personal papers of Brian Bergquist.
Biographical, John C. Hummel
Frederick C. Hummel obituary and funeral program
Idaho AIDS Foundation
High school drama: Barefoot in the Park
High school term papers
High school clippings
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Coming out
- Gay culture
- Human rights
- LGBTQ+ civil rights
- LGBTQ+ communities
- Don't Sign On (Organization)
- No on One Coalition (Idaho)
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)
- Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors (Organization)