They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too, so when Vital VOICE acquired a beautiful four-foot tall, rainbow colored, fiberglass birthday cake, the best alternative was to donate it. As Vital VOICE recognizes the work that the St. Louis LGBT History Project has done in the community, the project seemed to be the perfect recipient for such a donation.
The mission of the St. Louis LGBT History Project is “to preserve and promote the diverse and dynamic history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of Greater St. Louis.” It started in 2007 as a blog, and has since developed into fully established project that is a partner of the LGBT Center of St. Louis and the Missouri History Museum.
Steven Brawley, the founder of the St. Louis History Project, is the proud new owner of the three-tier cake, and we’re guessing he’s okay with not eating it.
“If it was a real cake, I’m guessing it would be the rainbow cake that you’ve seen in the last few years,” Brawley says. “It’s fun to see those on Pinterest and things. People create those rainbow cakes now, especially during Pride, there’s a lot of bakeries that are now selling the rainbow cakes.”
However this fake cake was decorated for the LGBT community and was one of 250 cakes in the “Cakeway to the West,” art exhibit in 2014. The exhibit was a physical representation of St. Louis turning 250 years old. The exhibit included not only the cakes, but other historic relics as well, some of which being LGBT specific.
“In the 250 exhibit was a piece of the largest LGBT pride flag ever, created in Key West, and each major city got a big hunk of the flag,” Brawley says. “As you left the 250 exhibit you saw the St. Louis flag and the Pride flag next to each other, so that was a major symbolic move.”
Out of all the aspects of the 250 event, the cakes became one of the most popular exhibits.
“The cakes were designed to kind of be a scavenger hunt so people would want to find as many cakes as possible,” Brawley explains. “It became this huge phenomenon with Facebook pages devoted to people competing to see who could get to the 250 cakes the quickest. It was regional, the cakes weren’t just the city or county, but in St. Charles, Illinois, Jefferson County. It was a broad region that these cakes were displayed.”
The exhibit showcased many different historic groups that have played a role in St. Louis’s 250 years.
“It’s great to see the different groups,” Brawley continues. “The LGBT cake was great because of the fact that the Pride colors are so vibrant, and it was front and center for the time of the 250 event. It recognized those historical groups in America. It’s a history lesson for those who may not know about these groups. There were literally hundreds of people involved, finding every cake. They would take their picture, or their kids’, or their families’ picture with each cake, then they’d go onto the next one. People spent weekends running around trying to find all these cakes, so this cake was photographed extensively. And like I said, it’s fun to find pictures of this cake and all the 250 other ones.”
But the LGBT cake wasn’t the only way LGBT voices were represented.
“There were several gay and lesbian artists who actually decorated cakes that were displayed,” Brawley says. “Marc Swain is a local artist, I know he decorated a couple of these and there are a couple other gay artists who decorated cakes. What’s great about this cake is that we can tell the story of how St. Louis celebrated 250, and how there was an LGBT voice in that history.”
“The plan for the cake now is to find a permanent home for it. The goal would be to get it someplace that people can see it down the road,” Brawley says. ““The project thanks Vital VOICE for this contribution. It’s a wonderful way to preserve history, but also to promote history and for folks to understand that St. Louis is very diverse and dynamic.” V