Pride 2014, July 18 - 20

Stonewall 40 - Generations of Pride

Thanks For the Memories.

This year San Diego Pride committed itself to undertaking the Stonewall 40 history project. The modern gay rights movement, which started with the Stonewall riots, is almost 40 years old, but all too often there wasn't an organized effort to preserve the records of the historical events as they were happening. For this reason, San Diego Pride recognized the need to document this history now and create a multiphase/multimedia web project to capture local Pride history.

The lack of record keeping isn't uncommon. When an oppressed group of people begin to fight for their rights they are often more concerned with the next battle, the next right to be won, than they are with keeping good records or creating an archive to document their efforts.

It has been no different for the LGBT community and Pride. For the first few years, organizers in San Diego had to threaten the city with legal action just to get a parade permit, and in 1978 they were concerned with defeating the anti-gay initiative, Prop 6. In later years, they were concerned with getting a proclamation from the mayor recognizing them, reacting to the AIDS crisis, and fighting to keep anti-gay contingents from marching in the parade. If it doesn't get documented now, we realize that our history is in danger of being lost.

The need to chronicle the history of the LGBT community and the Pride movement has reached a critical point. The San Diego Pride movement is almost 40 years old, and many of the people who were around in the beginning have reached retirement age or passed away from old age. Furthermore, too many of them were lost prematurely to AIDS and if we are going to record the stories of those who remain, then the time to do so is now.

1971LambdaThere's also an even more important reason for the LGBT community to record its history than for almost any other group, and that has to do with lack of continuity. Unlike almost any other minority, LGBT history doesn't get passed down automatically. It's common for people who are born Black, Jewish, Latino, or Irish Catholic, to learn from their parents and family about their culture's history and how they came to be where they are today, but the vast majority of LGBT youths don't learn about their history while growing up.

The older generations often say that "Young LGBT people these days don't care about their history," and that may be true. The 18 year old going to his or her first pride is probably more interested in having a good time than in dwelling in the past, and that is only natural; but, someday they will want to know, and we will want to remember, and that is why it is so important to record our history now.

photo:  1971 - members of the Gay Liberation Front picket outside the San Diego Police office to protest police harassment of homosexuals.

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