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Md. man's button collection tells story of gay rights movement

When it comes to history, Al Feldstein is an equal-opportunity collector.

The Western Maryland resident has been making appearances at rallies and protests held by groups on both ends of the political spectrum for decades.

When there, he makes sure to grab a poster, a picture or any other token of attendance he can find, and among his vast collection of items are some 15,000 buttons -- many of them related to the gay rights movement.

Al was kind enough to share some of those buttons with Gay Matters. He doesn't think much of keeping them hidden away, he said.

"What good is keeping it on a corkboard in your office?" he said of his pin collection.

More so than the posters and T-shirts and stickers that he's also collected, the pins stand out, he said.

"To me, they're the most colorful and graphic depiction of our 1st Amendment rights to speech and assembly," the La Vale resident said.

Feldstein's collection features pins from gay-rights marches in the 1970s, from the recent political battle to pass same-sex marriage in Maryland and from many events in between.

The collection includes pins from events he has personally attended, often with his wife Angela, but also items that friends have sent to him from around the country.

"I have my agents on both sides of the aisle out there looking for me," he said.

The result is a compelling look back, told through snappy slogans and eye-popping art.

Take a look through the photo gallery for yourself and let us know what you think.

Al will love it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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