LAMBDA ARCHIVES 30TH ANNIVERSARY: Preserving and Celebrating LGBT History

[ 0 ] September 13, 2017 |

by walter meyer – 

This September, Lambda Archives proudly celebrates 30 years of preserving San Diego’s LGBTQ community history.

Dennis Fiordaliso was an early board member and volunteer at what was first incorporated in December, 1987 as the Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego.

Fiordaliso wrote of that founding: “Jess Jessop was a long-time collector of all kinds of print and photographic reference material associated with the gay community. He was a key player in the founding of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in San Diego and he felt a deep obligation to teach future generations about the contributions of lesbian and gay people throughout history. Jess was not alone in this mission. Doug Moore was also a long-term collector of gay memorabilia. In June of 1990, the first board for the archives was assembled and its membership included Moore, Chris Spilsbury, Debbie Zehyer and Kate Johnson.”

Many other people added to those collections and knew they were making history as they founded the Center: Pride, local branches of Dignity (the Catholic LGBTQ group), the Metropolitan Community Church and many other organizations, sports, teams and political movements.

Holdings outgrew the space in Jessop’s home and Lambda Archives acquired a small, second floor room at 4545 Park Boulevard. It later added a larger space downstairs behind Diversionary Theatre where it now holds a library, scanning room, an exhibit area and thousands of boxes of history.

In recent years, so many San Diego pioneers have retired or moved, bringing many more boxes of important materials to the archives. Bridget Wilson, who worked alongside Dr. Brad Truax in the early days of HIV/AIDS and as an attorney who fought many good fights on behalf of the community, was one who brought her materials.

Hida Viloria

Not only that, she has spent many hours helping identify the stacks of papers that are the foundation of so much of San Diego’s LGBTQ history. Toni Atkins, who rose from assisting Christine Kehoe, through the city council to the State Assembly and now the State Senate, has likewise recently trusted Lambda Archives with volumes of materials (as had Kehoe before her).

As the archives has become more visible through its walking tours of Hillcrest history, it’s Out at the Archives events and regular updates in local media, more people turn to the organization as the repository of their histories and to use it for research. One such project, by independent filmmaker Paul Detwiler, has been using the organization’s resources for a documentary on KPBS about the gay bars of San Diego.

On Saturday, September 16, inside the historic Lafayette Hotel, 2223 El Cajon Boulevard, Lambda Archives will celebrate the “pearls” in its collections: Events that shaped the community, people who made that history and many other resources to help empower the next generation to learn about its LGBTQ+ identity.

The guest speaker for the event is intersex and gender non-binary activist, Hida Viloria, author of Born Both: An Intersex life. Of her appearance at the event, Lambda Archives Head Archivist Jen LaBarbera, offered this, “As our country becomes more and more divided, I’m excited to have an opportunity for San Diego’s LGBTQ community to come together to honor our history and the diversity of our community’s stories.

“Our commitment to collect, preserve and teach LGBTQ history includes the entire diverse spectrum of our community. As a queer, Latinx, intersex, gender-fluid feminist activist, Hida has a powerful story to share, and I’m glad that Lambda Archives will be able to provide that platform.”

Lambda Archives’ 30th Anniversary reception with Hida Viloria and honored guests will take place Saturday, September 16, starting at 5 p.m. with dinner and a program at 6. Tickets for both are $125, with VIP reception and dinner tickets at $250.

Proceeds will support Lambda Archives’ ongoing mission to collect, preserve and teach San Diego, Imperial County and Northern Baja California’s LGBTQ histories.

For tickets and more information about both, call 619.260.1522 or go to lambdaarchives.org.

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Category: San Diego

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