They've been here all along — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — but now they and their stuff are going to be in the Smithsonian, with TV's beloved Will and Grace leading the way.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has begun to document the history of LGBT Americans, announcing today the addition of hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects to its famed collections.
Included are W&G original scripts, casting ideas, political memorabilia surrounding the show and the series finale, plus network-donated props such as a sign from "Grace Adler Interior Design," Will Truman's framed college diploma, and that striking portrait of a young man that hung in Will and Grace's New York apartment.
Even the pill-popping, booze-swilling, quip-flinging Karen Walker character would be impressed, and by the way, her pill bottle and flask are going into the museum, too.
The sitcom, which ran on NBC from 1988 to 2006, was the most successful show to feature openly gay principal characters, whose sexuality was incidental to their comic goofiness. Everybody was wacky on W&G, the straight characters even more than the gay ones.
Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers said the show broke ground in the same way All in the Family did in the 1970s on issues of race and prejudice; that's why Archie Bunker's chair from that show also is in the Smithsonian.
Show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, who were at today's ceremony, said W&G helped Americans gain a better understanding of who gay people are — people they liked, people who could be their close friends.
"The fact that it's in the American history (museum), maybe we were a part of something that was bigger than we ever imagined," Kohan told The Associated Press.
The larger effort to document gay and lesbian history is new for the museum, said curator Katherine Ott. "It's not talked about and analyzed and understood in the critical ways in which it should be. So for us to build the collection means we can more fully document the history of this country."
Items being donated include the diplomatic passports of Ambassador David Huebner, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and his husband, and a tennis racket from former professional player Renee Richards who won a landmark New York Supreme Court decision for transgender rights after she was denied entry to the U.S. Open in 1975.