Lambda Archives of San Diego
Formerly Lesbian and Gay Historical Society of San Diego
Preserving and Teaching Our History

San Diego LGBT
Community History Timeline
1885-1969 | 1970's | 1980's | 1990's | 2000-2007


A gay seniors group organizes to provide support to elder gays and lesbians.  Possible names under consideration are: the Silver Hair Society, the Silver Fox Society, the Silver Lambda Organization, and the Senior Assistance Society. It settles on Seniors Active in a Gay Environment (SAGE), the name of a similar group in New York.

The Center for Social Services moves to 1447 30th St. in Golden Hill.

New gay businesses launched in 1980: Adams End, The Golden Eagle, The Eagle in Exile (under 21 disco), Mr. Dillon's, the Club Gemini (bath), Club Aladdin (bath), The Loft (reopened) and Saloon III.

Allison Ross of KFMB/Channel 8 produces a TV news report on "Today's Gays in San Diego." She wins an Emmy for the report.

A new vaccine for Hepatitis B viral infection is available. Gay male carriers of the virus are asked by Trimar Biologics of San Diego to donate blood to be used in the manufacture of the vaccine.

Yvonne King is the first open lesbian delegate from San Diego to the National Democratic Convention.

The Oceanside MCC launches the area's second gay center, called the Oceanside MCC Center for Social Services. It is located at 122 N. Cleveland Ave. Jim Weatherall is director.

The 1980 Gay Pride celebration attracts 700 persons.

"Reflections" the MCC TV program airs on cable TV in September.

The California Supreme Court's Pryor decision clears up years of confusion over what constitutes lewd behavior. The conduct must take place in public or an area open to public view, and other persons must be present to witness the behavior and be offended by it. In San Diego the ruling results in the City paying damages of up to $500 to persons who have been arrested for lewd conduct, such as sexual conduct of gay men in cars and peep show booths.

United San Diego Elections Council (nonpartisan political action for the gay/lesbian community) is founded by Dr. A. Brad Truax.

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A gay/lesbian rights organization is founded in Tijuana, Mexico by Emilio Velasquez with the help of gay San Diegans.

Front Runners (lesbian/gay runners club) San Diego Chapter is founded.

Accord magazine announces the founding of the Jess Jessop Historical/Reference and Research Library. Its purpose is to provide the San Diego gay community with a historically comprehensive library of gay publications and newspapers. The library has copies of San Diego Son, Pacific Coast Times, The Rose, Encounter, The Reporter, Update, Thursday's Child, Pride, and The Advocate dating back to 1963.

A new Republican club, San Diego Log Cabin Club is formed in April. Its name is chosen in association with the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, to symbolize its mission of broadening the human rights agenda within the Republican Party.

The West Coast Cavalier Band, San Diego's first gay marching band, is launched. Michael St. John is chairman of the board. A fundraiser is held at the Club San Francisco.

The Men�s Center is founded in November. It provides social events, rap and discussion groups, counseling, referral services and community programs.

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Justin Brent and the Gay Academic Union found Network in January. Members meet monthly as a forum for information exchange among gay groups.

The Bisexual, a social support group offering the choice of an alternative lifestyle, is founded in January.

The youth disco Studio 9 opens at 2533 El Cajon Blvd. August 5. Earlier endeavors at gay youth discos include Basin Street in Hillcrest, Lombard's inside the San Diego Hotel, Lombards II on Columbia St. downtown, and a disco at University and Wabash near the 805 freeway.

History of a gay publication: The San Diego Son began publishing January 1976. In June 1980 it became the Accord. Between 1981 and May 1982 it ceased publication, then resumed with a new format June 1982. Duane Pierce is publisher.

Fire destroys the F Street Bookstore at University and Florida streets, August 21.

The 4th annual Faerie Gathering is held in San Diego, a spiritual gathering of gay men, August 28 - September 5.

The first issue of the San Diego Gayzette is published September 2.

MCC moves to new location, larger facility at 4333 30th St.; first service is held in September. MCC was founded in 1975.

The Great Gay Music Festival is held in Golden Hall in the Community Concourse in downtown San Diego. It is the first event of its kind to be held in city-owned facilities. Performances include the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, the Great American Yankee Freedom Band of Los Angeles and the comedienne Carol Roberts.

Show Biz supper Club, the major San Diego showplace for female impersonators, closes in October.

The Wing Cafe closes December 18. The cafe opened 2 years ago. Its Friday evening women's open showcase provided opportunity for many women to test their talents. The Wing was the only local coffeehouse to bring a consistently high level of out-of-town women's entertainment.

The first meeting of local PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is held December 12. PFLAG is a nationwide organization formed to help others unlearn the homophobia inherent in the socialization process.

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In late 1982 and early 1983 community members attempt to form a Gay Cultural Center. Organizers envision it to house an art gallery, motel, shopping mall, library, historical museum, theater, concert hall for local gay events, gay bank or credit union, meeting rooms, medical center, and senior citizens housing.

San Diego Gay Softball League is formed.

Shanti is founded - later to become San Diego AIDS Project.

Blood Sisters is founded by the San Diego Democratic Club (SDDC). SDDC member Barbara Bick organizes the first drive held July 15, thought to be the first such blood drive anywhere. The donations of blood create credits for blood to be given to people with AIDS and ARC. Nearly 200 lesbians give blood in response to news that gay men are no longer allowed to donate blood because of the possibility of AIDS virus contamination.

The San Diego Gay Labor Organizing Committee holds its first meeting June 13 at the home of Jonathan Dunn-Rankin. The Committee is an attempt to bring gay rights issues into the labor movement and labor issues into the gay community. Its first project is to organize the gay labor contingent for the lesbian/gay pride parade in San Diego.

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Openly gay psychiatrist and sex researcher, Dr. David McWhirter of San Diego, is appointed to the Kinsey Institute's Scientific Advisory Board.

An arsonist torches the original home of the Metropolitan Community Church, location of the MCC in the early 1970s. Over the years it housed a gay information hotline and the gay center, in addition to its religious services.

Weekly half-hour gay/lesbian radio program produced by Rick Moore begins airing on KPBS at San Diego State University.

America's Finest City Freedom Band (gay/lesbian Marching Band) is formed.

Protective Order of Opera Fans (POOF) holds its first organizational meeting in January. It is a special interest group of the Gay Academic Union.

San Diego County AIDS Assistance Fund is founded February 13. Monies raised go to AIDS patients, not to education or political lobbying.

The first meeting of Gay and Lesbian Veterans of San Diego is held in February.

Arson is a possible cause for a February fire in the Stepping Stone building on Central Ave. in east San Diego. Damage to the building is at least $30,000 plus $15,000 in contents.

Police Chief Bill Kolender names an official liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Lt. Dave Spisak. "I think it's the first liaison between the police and gays and lesbians."

Students at the Catholic Church-operated University of San Diego form a support group of lesbian and gay students dedicated to developing a positive attitude about their sexuality and to help them cope with the special problems of being gay and lesbian at a Catholic university.

A new beer, Wilde's, goes on sale in San Diego. Wilde pledges 35% of profits will be returned to the gay community.

Gay and Lesbian Latinos (GLLO) holds its first regular meeting June 19.

The Hot Flashes are hot. The local comedy team consists of Maggie Gillette, Maureen Gaffney, Robyn Samuels, and Sherri Glaser. One of their routines is "Coming Out of the Closet," which portrays every possible fear of coming out.

Lesbian publication, If the Shoe Fits, is published. It presents monthly themes such as body image and the goddess as well as news of local events.

Baptists march in what is thought to be the first anti-gay demonstration in Hillcrest. Included in the demonstration are Rev.Bob Lester of the Bible Missionary Fellowship in Santee and Rev. Dorman Owens.

Drs. David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, partners and psychotherapists, publish a book on local research, The Male Couple.

The Advocate lists 14 San Diegans among 400 U.S. gay leaders: Philip Baldwin, DDS; Justin Brent; Terry Cunningham; Judith A. Carton; Steven Desdier; Jonathan Dunn-Rankin; Rev. David S. Farrell; Allan Glesen; Gloria Johnson; Stanley Lewis; Andrew Mattison; David P. McWhirter; Nicole Murray; and A. Brad Truax, MD.

John Mitchel forms a new chapter of Affirmation, an organization for gay and lesbian Mormons.

The Martinez ordinance is passed in August. It requires that owners of adult bookstores remove all doors and curtains from their peep shows and position the peeps so that customers using them can be seen from the sales counter. Bookstore owners form the Adult Bookstore Association of San Diego to challenge the constitutionality of the ordinance.

Walter Mondale, campaigning in Hillcrest in October, introduces the San Diego City Council representative A. Brad Truax to a crowd of perhaps 10,000.

The MCC holds its first service in Tijuana. It marks the achievement of a two-year goal of Rev. Howard Williams to serve the needs of residents of Tijuana.

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Athletes in Motion (AIM) is founded to promote organized athletic groups in preparation for the 1986 Gay Games II in San Francisco. This is followed by proliferation of gay/lesbian sports clubs that formed teams for volleyball, basketball, swimming, surfing, bicycling, racquetball, track and field, billiards, and skiing.

Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU), the largest lesbian organization in the Southwest, forms a North County/San Diego chapter. The primary focus of SCWU is education.

Couples/San Diego is formed under the auspices of Couples National Network. Its purpose is to provide social and educational outreach to persons in lesbian/gay relationships.

The MCC of San Diego selects Rev. Sheila Rawls as its first woman assistant pastor.

Barbara Peabody founds Mothers of AIDS Patients (MAPS) to combat prejudice and ignorance and to provide a sounding board for mothers to share their experiences.

San Diego Mens Chorus (gay men's singing group) is founded.

The Gay/Lesbian Police Liaison Committee is established by Susan Jester for the purpose of providing an open channel of communication between the San Diego Police Department and the lesbian/gay community.

Susan Jester is appointed by Mayor Roger Hedgecock as the only openly gay member of the mayor's Advisory Board on Neighborhoods. The board represents the mayor's commitment to the preservation of neighborhood diversity.

The first Desert States Lesbian and Gay Conference is held March 30-31 in San Diego. The purpose is to bring together gay activists from the states of Arizona,

Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah to share information and lay the groundwork for a permanent regional coalition of communities.

The gay press reports that fires and threats plague gay businesses. The Disc-OPizza restaurant suffered a fire April 1. The West Coast Production Company received a threatening letter in March.

Longtime activist and gay community leader Dr. A. Brad Truax is appointed to the San Diego County Human Relations Commission by Board of Supervisors Chair Leon Williams in May. The appointment was made after months of speculation concerning whether an openly gay or lesbian would be appointed.


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The "Premiere Performance" concert of the San Diego Mens Chorus is held at the First Unitarian Church in Hillcrest. The 50-voice choir performs to a full house.

San Diego Womens Chorus (lesbian singing group) founded. Dr. Cynthia Lawrence-Wallace is founding director.

Superior Court Judge Mack P. Lovett issues an order which prohibits Sheriff John Duffy, his agents and employees from discriminating based on sexual orientation in employment, promotion or advancement, or in terminating an employee.

A surge of "lewd conduct" arrests are made over a two-month period of time in Presidio Park and at Spanish Landing.

The San Diego Blood Bank begins sending names of persons to the County Health Department who have tested positive for antibodies to the AIDS virus.

The San Diego gay and lesbian community unites to defeat the Larouche initiative, Proposition 64. A fundraising coordinator is hired and so much money is collected that a surplus remains after the defeat of the initiative.

Mayor Maureen O'Connor becomes the first elected official to march in the local Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade.  Mayor O'Connor and Jeri Dilno receive the Brad Truax Human Rights Award.


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The premier issue of Bravo is published February 12. Tony V. Zampella is copublisher and editor.

Larry Baza organizes artists for AIDS assistance. The performance at the Lyceum raises over $6,000.

Dignity San Diego opens Dignity Center in May at 4561 Park Blvd. It houses a chapel, library, and a drop-in area. Supervisor Leon Williams and former Dignity/San Diego President Henry Ramirez cut the ribbon.

The San Diego County AIDS Assistance Fund moves into a home of its own in May after four years of spending 100% of contributions on care for PWAs and PWARCs.  Greg Vasic of F Street Corp., a major financial supporter, paid for a year's lease on the building located next door to MCC on 30th Street.

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACTUP) San Diego is founded by Albert Bell for direct political action in the AIDS crisis.

Mayor Maureen O'Connor proclaims June 13-14 as "Gay Pride Days" in San Diego and marches in Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade with the San Diego AIDS Project. Several candidates for City Council ride in the parade.

Neil Good runs as openly gay candidate for San Diego City Council. He finishes a close third in a crowded primary election.

San Diego's historic monument, the Villa Montezuma, turns 100 in June. It was home to Jesse Shepard, a celebrated pianist in Europe and America, who embarked

on a second career as a writer under the pen name of Francis Grierson. He lived with his "companion-secretary" Lawrence Tonner.

The Rev. Pat Rocco of the U.S. Mission opens the first shelter for homeless gays and lesbians in August. It is immediately filled to capacity. A second shelter opens in October. The U.S. Mission operates with no government funds and also operates shelters in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The San Diego shelters are located at 2002 Irving Ave. and 643 26th Street.

Hundreds of gay/lesbian San Diegans travel to the nation's capitol in October for the National March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights. Among the 862 arrested in the largest civil disobedience action ever at the Supreme Court are local activists Albert Bell and Jess Jessop.

The first issue of the San Diego Lesbian Press is published in October, just six months after a group of women meet to discuss the need for such a publication and form a collective to make it happen.

A San Diego judge awards custody of 16-year-old Brian Batey to his late father's gay lover, Craig Corbett, even though the youngster's mother had also petitioned for custody after Frank Batey (Brian's father) died of complications from AIDS.

Beautiful Lesbian Thespians (BLT) is founded and produces the play Sisters in November, written by Kate Rosenblatt of Solana Beach.

The First Annual Lesbian Cultural/Arts Weekend is held November 21-22. It is organized by Nancy Gordon and Ramona Guerrera.

Rev. Dorman Owen, noted anti-gay activist, is jailed in November for his participation in the attempted bombing of a clinic that performs abortions.

The Archives is founded in December 1987. The first planning meeting of the Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego meets at Jess Jessop's apartment. The Archives is established to "Preserve and Teach Our History."

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The International Latina Lesbian Organization (ILLO) is established in January in San Diego. It promotes cultural, social, and philosophical efforts of lesbians. ILLO offers Latin dances at the Flame the first Sunday of each month. Salsa Sundays are co-hosted by Paula Valentine and Cynthia Lechuga.

San Diego's newest weekly for the lesbian and gay community is launched in January, the San Diego Gay Times. Larry L. "Lair" Davis is editor. In its inaugural issue, the newspaper declares Neil Good "Gay Person of the Year." Good chaired the committee, which wrote the ordinance creating the county's Human Relations Commission. The Times declares Mayor Maureen O'Connor the gay community's "Friend of the Year."

Harvey Milk Democratic Club becomes the first gay contingent to march in the Martin Luther King Day Parade in January.

A crowd of 600 gay and lesbian activists greets the mayor at her annual State of the City address at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park January 11. They demand more funding to fight AIDS in San Diego.

The San Diego Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) established the Lesbian and Gay Rights Committee. Its first forum is titled "Civil Liberties and AIDS," and is held at the California Western School of Law in January.

The Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to direct the county's Human Relations Commission to develop a registry of hate crimes to determine the nature and extent of hate violence in San Diego County.

The "Use Condoms" campaign is launched in Tijuana in February by the Proyecto SIDA Tijuana. Thousands of free condoms are distributed.

In February the City Council votes 8-1 to approve an AIDS anti-bias ordinance, which protects PWAs and PWARCs against discrimination. Santa Monica, San Francisco, Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, West Hollywood, Berkeley, and Oakland have similar laws. Bruce Henderson votes against the measure.

Bathhouse blues: The San Diego Board of Supervisors votes unanimously in February for a controversial ordinance they hope will close gay bathhouses. In March the San Diego City Council votes unanimously to order the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to restrict gay bathhouses. Bathhouse proprietors register strong objections to the proposed measure. In May attorneys Thomas Homann and Michael Crowley file a lawsuit in Superior Court seeking to overturn the March City Council ordinance that could be used to close gay bathhouses.

Harvey Fierstein's Safe Sex opens at the Bowery to wide acclaim.

As part of its nationwide tour, the Names Project's AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to San Diego April 12 and is visited by thousands at Golden Hall. The San Diego visit is the second stop on its 20-city national tour.

In April the first Mr. Baja Gay is chosen at Los Equipales disco bar in Tijuana. Martin del Castillo is selected from among representatives from Tijuana, Mexicali, and Ensenada. 300 attended the ceremony.

After a repressive atmosphere is created in Mexicali in 1986 by city and state police, 1987 sees a rebirth of lesbian and gay nightlife with the opening of the Disco Club Marimba, the only gay club in Mexicali. Lesbian participation is said to be significant.

San Diegans organize against Larouche's Proposition 69 which would require reporting to local health officers the names of persons with AIDS or those suspected of carrying the virus. It could force law enforcement and health officials to quarantine and isolate persons with AIDS and who are HIV positive. It is defeated.

Community Actively Supporting People with AIDS (CASA) is launched in May.

It is founded by Neil Good and Norma Assam and will solicit contributions from large corporations to assist in housing and caring for PWAs.

A new lesbian social group forms in June to provide weekly women-only space as an alternative to the bar scene. It is called For Lesbians Only (FLO).

Dorman Owens is sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for his part in the attempted bombing by Eric Svelmoe of a San Diego family planning clinic in 1987.

Svelmoe is sentenced to 179 days in jail and 5 years probation. He once flew a plane pulling the banner that read "Repent Fag" over San Diego's Pride Parade.

The first general meeting of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club of San Diego is held July 5.

U.S. Mission opens San Diego's first gay thrift store on 30th & Beech St. in July (supporting homeless and persons with AIDS).

San Diego Career Women is started during the summer by ten women to offer opportunities for professional development and networking in non-bar settings.

Within one month it has 120 members and grows to include over 250 members.

Lesbian/gay activists Jeri Dilno and Fred Scholl are appointed to the Police/Committee Relations Advisory Board. Appointments were made by Mayor O'Connor and unanimously approved by the City Council.

Police Chief Bill Kollender makes a three-hour course of the gay/lesbian community a permanent part of the Regional Law Enforcement Training Center Program.

Outreach for Couples, co-founded by Steve Whiting and Keith Roberts to "support the positive aspects of the couples concept."

Gay/Lesbian Asian-Pacific Islanders Social Support (GLASS) is founded by James Cua.

San Diegans send a large contingent to the March on Sacramento for Lesbian and Gay Rights to "bring the message home" from Washington. Jesse Jackson addresses the crowd of 20,000 - Sacramento's largest civil rights demonstration to date.

NOW's National Lesbian Rights Conference meets in San Diego October 7-10.

Speakers include Robin Morgan, Jean O-Leary, Karen Thompson, and Carmen Vazquez. The event is kicked off with a Lesbian Solidarity March and Rally at the County Government Building. Over 1,000 attend the conference. Previous Lesbian Solidarity marches were held in 1979, 1980, and 1981.

Gary Cheatham starts Auntie Helen's Fluff n Fold, a laundry service for PWAs in his garage with three "customers." It grows to occupy a thrift shop on 30th street in North Park, washing hundreds of loads of clothes a week.

Pat Rocco and the U.S. Mission. In 1962 the U.S. Mission was founded by the Rev. Robert Humphries to provide shelter, meals, clothing, and jobs for homeless gay men and lesbians. It is the second oldest gay organization in the U.S. The Mission operates with donations, without the use of government funding. No one of any sexuality, sex, race, creed or religion is turned away. Facilities are developed in San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

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The first meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Association of County Employees is held January 24. More than 50 gay and lesbian county employees are on hand to acknowledge their identities and their vital role in county government.

Lesbians and Gays of African Descent United (LAGADU) is founded in San Diego. The group becomes first African-American group to march in San Diego Gay Pride Parade.

The Center for Social Services offers first Lesbian and Gay Community Leadership Training Program. 27 persons attend the initial training session.

Robert Walsh is awarded $5,000 in an out-of-court settlement in an AIDS discrimination suit. He filed suit against Hillcrest chiropractor Joseph Cicmanec when the latter refused to treat Walsh last year because he has AIDS. Walsh's attorney, Timothy Pestotnik, chair of the San Diego AIDS Project, is able to use the 1988 AIDS anti-discrimination ordinance to settle the matter out-of-court.

The Human Rights Campaign creates the Lesbian Issues and Outreach Project in July.

The 4th annual National Gay Tennis Tournament is held in San Diego July 1-3, hosted by the San Diego Tennis Federation.

Jeff Palmer and Joe Pascal create the AIDS Benefit Calendar (proceeds donated to direct-service AIDS/HIV-related agencies).

Paradigm Publishing Company is founded in October. The lesbian-owned company is dedicated to publishing works created within communities of diversity. Proprietors are life partners Brenda Hines and Deanna Leach.

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