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The history of LGBT tragedy

Posted: June 24th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Out of the Archives | No Comments

By Archives Staff | Out of the Archives

The philosopher George Santayana is often paraphrased to the effect that “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

The tragedy in Orlando was unprecedented, but not without roots.

As an LGBTQ institution, we would be remiss if we did not comment on the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We at Lambda Archives grieve along with the rest of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies throughout the country and the world.

The LGBTQ community has been attacked many times over the years. By now, we all know about the bashings and beatings; the Stonewall Riots, the horrific attack on Mathew Shepard, and more. Until this month, the single most deadly incident was the 1973 arson fire at a gay bar in New Orleans, which resulted in the death of 32 people.

The John Wear Memorial Plaque, located on University Avenue near Flicks (Photo by Walter Meyer)

The John Wear Memorial Plaque, located on University Avenue near Flicks (Photo by Walter Meyer)

What happened at Pulse was a part of these events, not apart from them. We are rededicated to making sure that our history — the happy and the sad — is preserved so that future generations do not forget these struggles and will use knowledge of the past to inform their actions.

Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation, recently went on a Lambda Archives Hillcrest LGBT History Walking Tour.

“This very important tour highlights the history, stories, places, sites, tragedies and triumphs of this modern civil rights struggle,” he said. “A national and international struggle in which San Diego was at the forefront. Visitors will find this tour enlightening, entertaining, at times disheartening and ultimately inspiring.”

Sadly, during our walking tour of Hillcrest, we talk about the several attacks made against our Pride parades and festivals — and how the community rose above them. We point out the hate crimes plaque that commemorates the last fatal gay bashing in San Diego — not ancient history — that attack was in 1991.

The next walking tour of the LGBT history of Hillcrest will be Saturday morning, June 25, at 9:30 a.m. Visit our Facebook page to get tickets and join us. During Pride week, we will be having evening tours on July 13 and 14. Watch our Facebook page to get your tickets.

Archives staff, board members and volunteers were Out at the Fair to share information with the public attending the San Diego County Fair. It was great to see so many people and share the day with our colleagues with FOG, PFLAG and other LGBT-centric organizations. If you would like to meet new people and have some fun, get involved in our next outreach efforts. We’re looking for volunteers for Pride and for the upcoming Trolley Barn Park concert series.

Archivist Jen LaBarbera recently presented to an international conference as well as to a local high school on the link between archives and activism. Ask her more about it if you are interested in how you can contribute to the community.

We were recently honored by GSDBA as a nominee for “Nonprofit of the Year.” Congratulations to the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, who took top honors, and fellow nominee, the San Diego chapter of HRC. We are proud and humbled to be in such good company.

We also thank the city of San Diego Historic Resources Board for the recent recognition for our preservation efforts. We are pleased to continue to help with the San Diego LGBTQ Historic Context Survey and grateful to the many members of our community who have come forward to help us fill in the gaps. If you have any information you haven’t yet shared, please get in touch. Your stories are important to us as well as to the survey effort.

We’d like to bid thanks and farewell to Ame Stanko of Pixel Lava who has been handling our web page. We wish her well in her future endeavors. If you are a web and app master (or know one) looking for a small gig, please get in touch! We are now in the search for a new person to take over the contract. Thanks!

We wish you the very best at Pride. It will be a safe and sobering event this year and we look forward to seeing you there. Stop in and say “hello.”

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