Donations and recent happenings

Posted: September 2nd, 2016 | Columns, Out of the Archives, Top Story | No Comments

By Archives Staff | Out of the Archives

We are proud and happy to have contributed to the city of San Diego’s LGBTQ Context Statement. To read the preliminary report, visit If you see anything lacking or incorrect in the statement, please reach out to Kelley Stanco, the city’s senior planner/HRB liaison, at 619-236-6545 or


Some of the interesting material received through our doors in the last month includes all of the remembrances that were left at the base of the flagpole on Normal Street in the days following the Orlando tragedy.

We will process and preserve the five boxes of candles, cards, teddy bears, notes, poems and other tributes. Thanks to the Hillcrest Business Association for collecting the materials and entrusting us with this sorrowful, but important, piece of our history.


All the items left behind at the Pride Flag in memory of the Orlando tragedy were scooped up by Lambda Archives. (Photo by Morgan M. Hurley)

An unusual addition to the Archives is a newspaper box from the Gay & Lesbian Times. This is the standing plastic box that was placed on the street and held free copies of the latest edition of the Gay & Lesbian Times newspaper while it was still in print. The box nicely complements our collection of the Gay & Lesbian Times, a very important community periodical that published from 1988 until 2010. Thanks to Benny Cartwright and Mat Wahlstrom for their help in securing the box for us.

One of the last remaining GLT distribution boxes (Photo by Walt Meyer)

One of the last remaining GLT distribution boxes (Photo by Walt Meyer)

A T-shirt from Tel Aviv Pride was a recent gift from Bruce Abrams who attended the festival in Israel as part of a U.S. delegation. Lisa Lamont and Angela Risi of San Diego State continue to photograph a selection of our large collection of over 1,200 T-shirts from local and international LGBTQ pride events, campaigns, and organizations. Thanks to a grant from Cal Humanities, our collaborative project, “Out on the Left Coast: San Diego LGBTQ History,” will use an online interactive website to document San Diego’s LGBTQ movement, set to launch in 2017. The SDSU crew is also repacking the shirts for enhanced preservation. Thanks to Lisa and Angela for their hard work.

We are proud of the efforts of Nicole Murray-Ramirez in pushing for the naming of a Naval vessel for Navy veteran and gay hero Harvey Milk. The Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus had a naming ceremony Aug. 22 in San Francisco and Murray-Ramirez was there.

Author Lillian Faderman is still looking for more people who knew Milk when he was stationed in San Diego in the early 1950s and perhaps while he lived here briefly in the early 1970s. Milk apparently went to the Brass Rail and may have used some of the locker clubs Downtown. If you have any information at all, please get in touch!

Boxes of items left at Orlando vigil await processing (Photo by Walt Meyer)

Boxes of items left at Orlando vigil await processing (Photo by Walt Meyer)

History tours    

Our Hillcrest LGBT History walking tours continue to be popular and the Sept. 17 tour is filling up fast. Visit to get your tickets before it sells out.

On the last tour, someone asked why Lambda Archives was called Lambda. We didn’t have a very complete response at the time other than the Greek letter lambda was adopted by numerous LGBTQ groups (e.g “Lambda Legal,” and “Lambda Literary,”) as an overarching term, seen by some as less cumbersome than LGBTQIA or used by some older organizations to mask that they were gay or lesbian. As luck would have it, while processing a collection, one of our archivists came across a pamphlet written by Doug Moore that explained the origins of the Greek letter’s connection to the LGBTQ community.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 9.29.42 AMThe Greek letter lambda was first adopted by The Gay Activists Alliance of New York City in 1969. The Gay Activists wanted an easy to recognize symbol that could become a symbol for LGBTQ rights. They chose the lambda because in chemistry it symbolizes a complete exchange of energy. It has also been said to stand for “liberation.”

Thanks to Eddie Rey and the San Diego LGBT Visitors Center for promoting the walking tours. To learn about all there is to do on the queer side of San Diego, stop by and see Eddie at 502 University Ave.


Wendy Sue Biegeleisen continues to volunteer at Lambda Archives every Thursday afternoon.

“It is so much fun to go through old pictures and recognize folks and events,” Wendy said. “It would be even more fun if others joined me. And the air-conditioning is great!”

Bernie Cox just became a volunteer and is working on our membership database. Are you a member? Would you like to be? Membership fees are an important part of supporting our efforts to collect and preserve all aspects of the LGBTQ+ history of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the Northern Baja California region.

One of our younger volunteers just created an iPad sign-in sheet to help us keep track of visitors and volunteer hours — an important element of grant applications. So, whether you are young or not so young, we need your help.

South Bay Pride

We will have a booth at the beautiful South Bay Pride at Chula Vista Marina on Sept. 10 from noon until 8 p.m. Stop by, say “Hi,” and learn how you can be part of the Archives.

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