In 1982, a Naval Intelligence Service investigation in San Diego to “ferret out the lesbians” aboard the submarine tender USS Dixon subjected twelve women to months of ordeal and ended in the dishonorable discharge of three of them. Just thirty-six years later, Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) became the first openly gay Senate leader in California’s state history.
To highlight this and other stories of perseverance and achievement, the San Diego History Center is partnering with Lambda Archives of San Diego to bring the first exhibition on the history of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community to Balboa Park.
LGBTQ+ San Diego: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs examines how this community has faced, fought—and continues to fight—against persecution and intolerance, with the goal of equality for all LGBTQ+ identified people. This exhibition and associated programs will shed new light on the role of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community in the larger San Diego narrative.
The curatorial team is led by Professor Lillian Faderman, a distinguished scholar and author of the books "The Gay Revolution" and "Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death."
She explains that “For generations, LGBTQ+ people in San Diego as elsewhere were considered pariahs for their sexuality or gender expression. They suffered discrimination and harassment, were entrapped by the police, faced job termination discharged dishonorably from the military, and deprived of civil rights. Along with other movements for justice and equality, they’ve sought to end the unreasoning prejudices against them.”
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