“The Chibbaro Files”

Veteran “Washington Blade” Reporter Lou Chibbaro Completes Donation of “The Chibbaro Files” to George Washington University Special Collections Library.

“The Chibbaro Files” gift facilitated and financially supported by Mattachine.

Photo credit: Lou Chibbaro

January 12, 2021—After months of delay caused by pandemic precautions, veteran “Blade” reporter Lou Chibbaro was delighted to see a crew of masked movers load 87 large cartons of his reporting files, interview notes, audio tapes and clippings into a van headed for George Washington University’s Library Special Collections Research Center.  “These files represent some twenty years of my reporting—from DC LGBT politics to the trial of Matthew Shepard’s killer in Laramie, Wyoming to these challenging times in Washington.  I am so pleased to make these materials, my work reporting at the Blade, available to researchers and future historians.”

Chibbaro kept meticulous notes and reporting files covering decades of LGBT politics, activism, culture and crime at the Washington Blade.  Last year, the Blade marked the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1969 and its long-held status as the nation’s LGBTQ community newspaper of record.

“We are thrilled to have helped Lou get these boxes out of the basement of his building and into the GW library!” said Mattachine Treasurer Pate Felts who was on-site with Lou at his building’s loading dock. Mattachine is supporting Chibbaro’s donation with a gift to the GW Library for a student archivist who will help organize the collection and prepare this Fall a finding aid for researchers to navigate the many thousands of papers in the cartons.

“Lou’s career has been heroic.  It is truly astounding when you look at all the many boxes and boxes documenting his tireless efforts to uncover the truth,” Felts said.

The files are identified with handwritten names and items like “Laramie Courthouse Interview.” One entire box is labeled, “Murders/Assaults.” (“The major papers often would not mention the victim was gay, so I picked up reporting on that and what really happened,” Chibbaro explains.) Chibbaro remembers spending a week in Laramie, Wyoming covering for the Blade the trial of the killers of Matthew Shephard.  “I will never forget the unbelievably emotional and moving speech by Matthew Shepard’s father Dennis Shephard, everyone in the courtroom sobbing”.  “On October 12, 1998, my first-born son and hero died fifty days before his 22nd birthday”, said Dennis Shepard in that courtroom.  (Dennis Shepard’s full speech here.) Chibbaro remembers that he was seated beside Moises Kaufman, author of what became one of the most-performed plays of the decade “The Laramie Project.”

“There is no better example of us living up to our motto, ‘Archive Activism’ than helping Lou preserve, donate and dedicate his papers to history,” said Mattachine Society President Charles Francis.

Photo credit: Pate Felts