LGBT Oral History 058: Nikki Knerr

Number of Pages: 
October 9, 2016

Nikki Knerr was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1945 and attended York College and Pennsylvania State University where she studied mass communications. In 1967, Nikki opened her first graphic design business which ran for 25 years in Camp Hill, before she retired to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. When the HIV/AIDS crisis emerged along with negative social stigma in the late 1980s, she organized the Unity Festival to raise funds and awareness for those infected, as well as for the greater LGBT community around Pennsylvania. In this interview, Nikki discusses the joyful moments and struggles of belonging to the gay community. She emphasizes the role gay bars such as D-Gem and Altland’s Ranch played in uniting LGBT individuals, as well as the compassion and perseverance demonstrated by the thousands of volunteers that participated in the Unity Festivals. In the interview, Nikki touches upon some of the amusing highlights involving the organization of the festivals. She marvels at the modern progress of LGBT rights and opportunities to unite in settings of merriment, yet admits that ostracism and societal barriers still exist in other spheres of life.

General Subjects: 
Time Period: 
Gift of Nikki Knerr
LGBT Oral History - Knerr, Nikki - 058
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections