Opening LGBTQ exhibits celebrate Pride

By Archives Staff

Just in time for Pride, two major exhibits are opening to celebrate the LGBTQ community of San Diego.

Opening July 5 at the Women’s Museum in Liberty Station is “Women of Pride,” celebrating queer women of San Diego. Many of the items, photos and videos on display come from the collections of Lambda Archives. Among the items on loan will be Gloria Johnson’s Susan B. Anthony Award from NOW, the original Pride flag that flew at University and Normal, the sign from Paradigm (a women’s bookstore), and a few lesbian-themed pulp fiction books that were considered racy in their day.

On July 8, the San Diego History Center will open its large exhibit. “LGBTQ+ SD: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs” will be the most expansive celebration of local LGBTQ history ever mounted in San Diego.

Photos being readied for the “LGBTQ+ SD: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of SDHC)

Photos, videos, and a wide array of memorabilia will greet visitors. But the first thing that will catch their eye is the brilliantly lit, giant rainbow flag draped above the atrium. This is the flag that was carried for years in the Pride Parade and was hung from the California Tower in Balboa Park after the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality. The flag is on loan from San Diego Pride. The Archives provided most of the material for the exhibit and the sleuthing on the part of its staff uncovered hidden treasures and it was arranged for them to be borrowed by the SDHC.

The rainbow flag in the atrium of the San Diego History Center (Photo by Walter G. Meyer)

Educational programs created in conjunction with the San Diego Unified School District, Pride, The Center, and community leaders. Other events including several of Lambda Archives Out at the Archives panels will take place at the museum and since the exhibit will likely be up for 18 months, there is time for the public to have input on what topics should be covered.

Part of the documentary, “San Diego’s Gay Bar History,” written, produced and directed by Paul Detwiler for KPBS, will play on a loop. A good deal of the research for the film was done at the Archives at the same time that work was being done for the SDHC exhibit so it was a natural blending of these two important manifestations of LGBTQ community history. The bar documentary debuted at FilmOut and is now available to stream on the KPBS website.

Senator Christine Kehoe and local businessman Robert Gleason spearheaded the Archives fundraising committee to provide money for the SDHC exhibit with help of generous supporters and some corporations. Already people are offering to sponsor buses to bring students to learn about the rich diversity of San Diego.

As a way of promoting the exhibitions and getting people interested in their history, on Monday July 25, Urban MO’s hosted their theme trivia night with questions of local LGBTQ history provided by Lambda Archives. Teams from St. Paul’s Episcopal, SheFest, the Gay Men’s Chorus, and Stonewall Citizens Patrol, among many other groups as well as teams composed of individuals-at-large, competed for some great prizes and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of raffle tickets provided by local businesses and books signed by the Archives’ Historian in Residence, Lillian Faderman. Professor Faderman curated the SDHC exhibit.

The Democrats for Equality team included Senator Christine Kehoe who has made so much local history that she was an answer to one of the questions.

Lambda Archives’ next walking tour is scheduled for Sunday, July 29, at 11 a.m. Participants can learn even more of their LGBTQ history, so it will also make a good accompaniment to the exhibits. More walking tours are being planned in conjunction with the History Center and Women’s Museum.

Love photos, a collection being readied for the“LGBTQ+ SD: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of SDHC)

The Women’s Museum is located at 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16, in Liberty Station. Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors and Museum members are free.

The San Diego History Center is nestled in the heart of Balboa Park at 1649 El Prado, in the same building as the Museum of Photographic Arts and the Model Railroad Museum. There is no set admission fee, but it is suggested that visitors donate $10 for entry.

—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

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