By Lambda Archives Staff | Out of the Archives
In a change from our usual reporting on events at Lambda Archives, we are going to mix things up to highlight some of our collections this time.
We’ve chosen to highlight a collection that was processed very recently by a volunteer, Caro Vera, who also provided this report on the collection. The Archives is grateful for volunteers including Caro, who make all of what we do possible.
The Lesbians In North County (LINC) collection reveals the birth and growth of a vibrant community of lesbians, a tight-knit network that would exist for 26 years after its inception.
LINC’s origins go back to the founding of the North County Lesbian Support Group in November of 1989 by two therapists from the San Diego Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Center (The Center) who wanted to provide their North County clients with something closer to home.
The first few meetings were held in a private home in Oceanside, but, as attendance increased over the course of a few weeks, a new location was warranted. The group started renting space from the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Church in Vista for their Friday night meetings. For the next few years, the size of the group fluctuated, rising to 35 people at times and dropping again.
In 1992, one of the therapists who served as facilitator broke off with a portion of the group to form their own Wednesday night therapy-support group. It differed from the main support group in that it was a closed group with no drop-ins. It quickly died down, and the main support group, having suffered a loss of leadership and attendance, struggled to remain in existence.
In August of 1993, the support group lost its other therapist-facilitator. Out of a desire to keep the group alive, members Patty Morton, Dawn Sitler, and Wanda Pattison, stepped forward as co-facilitators. They assumed leadership and ended the group’s official tie to the San Diego Center.
The group renamed itself the Lesbians in North County (LINC) and began to thrive amid core changes. The transition from outsider leadership to member leadership shifted the focus of the group.
Its purpose, which had been to provide support for its members, was expanded to include a broader community of women. The members of LINC wanted the group to lift up their community. Their mission shifted, to provide “a safe and open environment for women seeking support and social activities.”
As a result of the new energy and momentum in the group, its social activities expanded. They began to have bowling, camping, hiking, beach parties, concerts, plays, sporting events, dance lessons, lectures and more. The scale of these events changed as well, with the group’s strength attracting more and more members of the lesbian community to its events.
In 1997, the annual LINC Memorial Day Party at Patty and Dawn’s Pathfinder Farm drew a crowd of more than 350 people. The entertainers they hired for that year’s party were Teresa Trull, a recording artist with Olivia Records and Redwood Records, and well-known guitarist Nina Gerber.
That summer’s newsletter — called LINCletter, LINC’s quarterly publication — stated that the annual LINC Memorial Day Party was the “biggest San Diego County event of the lesbian year.”
LINC events often doubled as fundraisers for The Center or for LINC itself. LINC had close ties with The Center; they were one of its major supporters and helped cut the dedication ribbon at its opening.
The LINCletter was often used to rally its members on behalf of The Center or for LINC when financial strains threatened to destroy their existence. They advertised fundraising events, such as benefit concerts or dinners, calling to attention the role LINC members could play in keeping these spaces open. LINC also helped fundraise and volunteered for other causes.
The LINCletter typically contained personality profiles for LINC members, anonymous advice (Dear Stella), poetry, articles about lesbian identities or issues, and information about upcoming social events or LINC meetings. The first issue was published in the summer of 1997, and focused on highlighting the group’s origin and history.
By reading LINC’s newsletters, one gets a sense for their closeness, its volunteer writers often describing individual members and what they did at an event. The LINCletters are riddled with inside jokes denoting close bonds between its members.
The LINCletter also served as a place for community advertisements with local businesses submitting ads, which often gave LINC members discounts to their products or services. It was common to see ads for Pathfinder Farm, Copy Girls Inc., Charlie’s Canine Corner, Gay Realtors, Big Kitchen Cafe, Hillcrest Optical, and other businesses.
LINC was a community pillar worth remembering. They provided an open space for lesbians to come together and support each other through discussion and social interaction.
In addition to LINC newsletters, we have meeting minutes, fliers, event tickets and programs, a print out of their website and even a wrist watch bearing the LINC logo.
LINC is just one of the collections that Lambda Archives is proud to house. For more information on LINC or any of our other collections, contact info@LambdaArchives.org or 619-260-1522.
—Lambda Archives, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to collecting, preserving and teaching the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in San Diego and the Northern Baja California region, is located at 4545 Park Blvd., in University Heights. To learn more, stop in or visit their website at lambdaarchives.org.
Have you used Lambda Archives for anything? Research? Recording interviews? Borrowing books? Making connections?
If so, researchers from UCLA would like to hear about your experiences. They would like to know how community archives are used and are conducting two focus groups on Sunday, Feb. 5 from 3-5 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 6, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
In exchange for their time, each focus group participant will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and complimentary dinner after the group. RSVP to Michelle Caswell firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact information, and the date you’d prefer to participate in a focus group (Feb. 5 or Feb. 6).
Both focus groups will be held at Lambda Archives, 4545 Park Blvd., Suite 104, University Heights. If you have any questions, please contact Jen LaBarbera archivist@LambdaArchives.org or 619-260-1522.
On Friday, Feb. 24 from 5:30-11 p.m., Parkeology will again host an event featuring stories from the Fruit Loop. Lambda Archives has been instrumental in finding interview subjects for this fascinating glimpse at cruising in Balboa Park. Cars will be parked around the parking lot at Marston Point playing some of the interviews with people who were involved in the Fruit Loop story, one way or another.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit parkeology.org/queens-circle. We hope to see you there!