Pride, presentations and outreach

Posted: August 5th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Out of the Archives | 1 Comment

By Archives Staff | Out of the Archives

This year, Pride was especially meaningful: poignant in many ways, yet joyful.

We were honored by San Diego Pride when Jen LaBarbera, our head archivist, was asked to give the opening speech at the Spirit of Stonewall rally, Friday night.

Jen delivered a very brief history of Pride and its origins, starting with the riots led by drag queens Marcia P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Both of these individuals later completed their transitions, showing once again that they were forerunners in our community.


Lambda Archivist Jen LaBarbera kicks off the Spirit of Stonewall Rally on Friday, July 15. (Photo by Walter Meyer)

Speaking of trans, board president Maureen Steiner attended Trans Pride on Friday afternoon. What a surprise to see so many booths and supporters at what started out a few years ago as simply a picnic in the park. Maureen was especially pleased to see organizations “outside the usual suspects;” including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, for one.

On Saturday, we all enjoyed participating with the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and its big blue Seal Tours amphibious vehicle in the parade. Thanks, SDHDF for allowing us to join you for the second year in a row.

At the festival itself, it was good seeing so many people stop by our booth in the new Rainbow Zone. Thanks to Pride and to our board, staff and volunteers who staffed the booth to share information about the Archives.

If you would like a copy of our latest newsletter — and aren’t on either our email or postal mailing list — get in touch at and we’d be happy to send you a copy. You are also welcome to stop by the Archives to say hi and grab a free copy. And you’ll want to be on our mailing list for the big-name events the Archives have in store for the rest of the year, including Trolley Barn Park’s last in its free concert series, Friday, Aug. 5, from 6 – 8 p.m.

Office manager Walt Meyer presented two walking tours of Hillcrest’s LGBTQ history during Pride week and Councilmember Todd Gloria and some of his staff joined us for our June tour.

“Lambda Archives’ Hillcrest Historic Walking Tour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the rich and storied history of San Diego’s LGBT community,” Gloria said afterward. “As the longtime home to many of San Diego’s oldest LGBT bars and organizations, it was remarkable to reflect on the historic significance these locations played in our journey towards equality and inclusion.”

Visit our Facebook page or TicketLeap to get your tickets and see why Gloria, historian Lillian Faderman (author of “The Gay Revolution”), and Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation, have been so impressed with the tour.

The next tour is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20 at 9:30 am. Please let us know if you have any special needs so we can adapt the tour or make a special date in the future that will work for you.


(l to r) Mel Merrill, David Ramos, Chuck Kaminski, Jen LaBarbera, Tomas Negron and Chrissy Renee Jones (Photo by Walt Meyer)

Many of you know that the state of California has finally announced that it will include LGBT curriculum in K-12 schools. We are very proud of the work we have done with San Diego Unified School District to help advance compliance with the FAIR Act. We will continue our outreach to San Diego’s communities and working with local schools, GSAs and others to increase their knowledge of LGBTQ history.

As stated above, we also work hand-in-hand with Pride and we will continue our collaboration with San Diego State. An intern from SDSU recently began the process of taking high-quality photos of the T-shirts in our collection and those images can be shared with the world, further expanding our reach.

This fall, Jen will be giving a presentation at UCLA about community archives. Walt, on a recent trip east, visited one of the largest sexuality archives in the world at Cornell University. He toured the facility and discussed sharing some of the history Lambda Archives has collected. He also visited the small, burgeoning LGBTQ archives in the gay community center of Pittsburgh.

At different times, both Jen and Walt visited the One Archive at the USC. We look forward to working with that institution in the future to increase the scope of LGBTQ history in Southern California.

Here at home, our digital archives specialist, Ken Selnick, has uploaded 60 oral histories to a server at UC Berkeley, in conjunction with our agreement with the California Audio-Visual Preservation Project. Special thanks to board member Steve Wroblewski for conducting so many of those priceless interviews. Though Steve is stepping down from the board for personal reasons, he plans to continue the interviews and is especially interested in rounding out the list of early Lambda Archives founders and members.

Meantime, Ken is also almost done getting all of our historical photos out of the albums, which are actually bad for photo preservation. The plastic leaches chemicals into the pictures, as does any paper that is not acid-free and any glues and gums used to hold the photos in place are also damaging to the photos. Although we have a long way to go in fully cataloging and digitizing the photos, just getting them into preservation sleeves and acid-free boxes does wonders for their longevity.

Maybe by now you are thinking, “Hey, I could do good and have fun at the same time.” Yes, you can join us at events like Pride, summer concerts, walking tours, and other outreach events. You can even come into the Archives (a summer “Cool Zone”) and assist with processing photos and collections or give an interview to Steve. Of course, if you want to simply become a member, go to

Visit us during any open hours at 4545 Park Blvd., in University Heights (the Diversionary Theatre building) or any time at, on Facebook, via email at, or 619-260-1522. Remember, “Lambda Archives is the cool place to be!”

One Comments

  1. I need to correct a mistake I made in above article.
    Neither Marcia P. Johnson nor Sylvia Rivera were ever trans or transitioned. Both were male persons of color, drag queens and activists. They were trans-supportive and worked for transsexual (the word in use at the time) rights, especially to protect youth.
    Thanks to City Commisioner Nicole Murray Rameriz for the correction and education.

Leave a Comment