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Unique local LGBT history exhibit at The San Diego History Center opens in July

Visit the history of San Diego's LGBT community in unique new exhibit in Balboa Park.
Photo credit:
Lambda Archives

Lambda Archives and The San Diego History Center have partnered up to bring the first-ever exhibition focused on the local LGBT community. Called LGBTQ+San Diego: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs, this rare glimpse into San Diego's queer past makes its debut on July 8, 2018, and runs until 2020. 

San Diego is not only a city with roots that reach deep into California's history, those same roots also extend into its LGBT culture which through activism and unity survived decades of persecution and intolerance. Stories of Struggles and Triumphs is a visual and audio exhibition containing rare photographs and retrospectives from prominent men and women who have helped make San Diego a shining example of LGBT Pride the world over. 

Visitors will hear about people being arrested for touching or dancing with the same sex in public. They will also learn about people in the community who would nurse those suffering from AIDS when no one else would. the San Diego History Center has arranged to display a rare portion of the AIDS Quilt with significance to our region.

“For generations, LGBTQ+ people in San Diego as elsewhere were considered pariahs for their sexuality or gender expression," said Professor and author Lillian Faderman who is also a part of the curatorial team. "They suffered discrimination and harassment, were entrapped by the police, faced job termination discharged dishonorably from the military, and deprived of civil rights. Along with other movements for justice and equality, they’ve sought to end the unreasoning prejudices against them.”

Former Senator, Christine Kehoe and San Diego businessman, Robert Gleason head up the Community Advisory Committee with additional support coming from San Diego Pride, The Imperial Court de San Diego and The Center.

Kids will also be included as a part of the exhibition through the Advocacy Working Group, comprised of LGTBQ+ community leaders, educators, and advocates

Along with iconic photographs and narratives, visitors will go through the exhibition exploring themes such as:

  • Identity—who we are and how we define ourselves
  • Pioneers who have helped shape our region’s LGBTQ+ community
  • Families we make and choose
  • Where the San Diego LGBTQ+ community is headed and the ongoing work toward equality and inclusion
  • The next generation: LGBTQ+ Youth perspectives

San Diego History Center's Executive Director, Bill Lawrence says this is a story that needs to be told, “San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community plays such a vital role in our community and are part of the rich mosaic of this region and with our partners at Lambda Archives, we look forward to providing a place for all.”

Organizers say this isn't just for the LGBT community but for everyone who may not know about this part of Southern California history. 

“This exhibition provides a space to tell the personal and communal histories of LGBTQ+ San Diegans. It is designed to build bridges between our region’s communities, to adjust inaccurate perceptions, and to provide resources to the previously-uninformed,” said Joel Steward, President of the Board of Directors of Lambda Archives of San Diego. “The public programming aspect—and the visibility and accessibility of Balboa Park—provides a welcoming platform to tell the stories of persecuted groups who have made substantial strides toward full equality while simultaneously acknowledging the struggles that lie ahead.”

A host of public programming is being planned for this exhibition and will feature lectures, films, and other activities throughout its run. Additionally, LGBTQ+ San Diego is included with the History Center’s donation-based Give Forward admissions policy, eliminating any financial barriers to accessing this narrative.

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LGBTQ+San Diego: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs begins July 8, 2018, and runs through 2020. 

The San Diego History Center is located at Casa De Balboa, Balboa Park 1649 El Prado, Suite #3 San Diego, CA 92101.