Recently, local historian Maria E. Garcia’s award-winning book “We Made San Diego”, has been getting rave reviews as it’s about the history of the Latino Community and civic leader/activists in San Diego. It has been my longtime dream for a book to be written about our San Diego LGBTQ+ history and I am excited to announce that I have secured financial backing for such a book to be published. I’ve been in discussions with Bridget Wilson; renowned author and historian, Lillian Faderman; past President of Lambda Archives San Diego, Maureen Steiner; Founder and Executive Director in North County LGBTQ Resource Center, Max Disposti; Susan Jester; (Founder of American Veterans for Equal Rights Bob Lehman), Pat McArron; First Director of DignityUSA’s Pacific Region; Executive Director of San Diego Pride, Fernando Z. Lopez; and many others. As a Latino/LGBTQ+ activist from the 1960/1970s I can sadly, but honestly tell you that we are indeed losing our true LGBTQ+ history as more and more of our longtime activist and leaders pass away.
Also, many of us are witnessing a revision of our history by some writers who were not even born in the 1960s or 70s. I want to make it very clear that I respect the long time work the San Diego Lambda Archives has tried to do and in the past I have raised them much funds, but with all due respect, even their San Diego community history timeline has numerous mistakes or omissions for example: The 1972 May Company protest was not just a demonstration at May Company, but we also picketed the Copley Press (Union Tribune Newspaper) that day. The 1972 protest about Gay bars not allowing cross dressers in their bars was not just about not allowing Drag Queens and Transsexuals in their bars but also some “carding” people of color and lesbians, asking them for three forms of identification before admission into certain bars. To write that San Diego‘s first Pride March in 1974 was about 200 LGBTQ+ people, for the first time in a “public event” letting the city know we were Gay, is absolutely incorrect. In 1974 Lambda Archives Founder and Vietnam Veteran Jess Jessop, ACLU Attorney Tom Homann, and I went to the Police Department to secure a Pride Parade permit and we were refused but 200 of us marched anyway, just ask Bridget Wilson. Many of our nation’s first Pride marches and parades were not issued permits but marches took place anyway. In 1975 a Pride parade permit was issued to attorney Tom Homman and for the next several years the Police Department sent the permit directly to his office. Jeffrey Wergeles from ACLU San Diego has a copy of Tom’s letter stating as such.
San Diego Lambda Archives timeline has also left out more historically important facts: The first San Diegans elected to serve on the boards of the National Gay Rights Lobby and Human Rights Campaign. The LGBTQ+ community helped fund the first Cesar Chavez San Diego Parade, the San Diego Police Memorial, the Union Tribunes Children’s Shoe fund, etc. The first LGBTQ+ contingent to march in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade (with the then Harvey Milk Democratic Club of San Diego) which we were frequently heckled along the parade route. Also, in 1975 Toys for Tots and the Marine Corp refused to collect toys at the Barbary Coast disco because the hundreds of toys collected were from homosexuals.
I will soon call a meeting of activists from the 1960’s and 70’s for a workshop about this book and there will be more than one author. Everyone who contributes to the writing will be acknowledged. And yes, though it will be underwritten by wonderful LGBTQ+ people, the sale of this book could benefit the San Diego Lambda Archives, San Diego History Center, San Diego Pride, all to be determined at a later date, and no one individual will benefit from this history book, only San Diego nonprofits.
This “San Diego LGBTQ+ History book” is a project of the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force and input, suggestions, ideas, and historical facts are welcomed and can be sent to me at PO Box 33915 San Diego, CA 92163 or contact me directly at [email protected].
The San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force is also proud to announce that after much lobbying one of our Board Members, Attorney Bruce Abrams has been appointed to the City of San Diego’s Historic Site Board.