The Historical Society of Long Beach Launches LGBT History Project

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The Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB) has launched a project to collect, preserve and present the history of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The project, which got underway in July, has convened a steering committee which will oversee the completion of an exhibit, the compilation of oral histories and the production of a video documentary.

Marsha Naify, former President of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club, and Julie Bartolotto, Executive Director of the HSLB, are co-chairing the steering committee which includes a broad representation from the LGBT community as well as staff and board members from the HSLB. Included on the committee are present and past board members from Long Beach Pride, The Center, the Lambda Democratic Club and the Imperial Court.

“Our goal is to understand how the LGBT community was formed in Long Beach,” said Bartolotto.  According to Dr. Kaye Briegel, project historian, this project will demonstrate that Long Beach is significant to the overall narrative of the national struggle for rights of the LGBT community. “Events and issues in Long Beach are often overshadowed by those that take place in Los Angeles. I believe this project will help show that Long Beach had a large role in expanding LGBT rights.”

A yearlong exhibit entitled “Coming Out in Long Beach” will open in February, 2013 at the HSLB on Atlantic Ave.  The struggle for equal rights and the tremendous contributions of the LGBT community in Long Beach will be highlighted during this exhibit; but more importantly, a permanent record of these struggles and contributions will be housed at the HSLB for future generations.

One of the first items collected for display was one of Melissa Etheridge’s gold records. Early in her career Etheridge performed at the Que Sera and Executive Suite, local lesbian bars.  Other pieces in the display will include documents related to the controversy surrounding the first Pride Parade and Festival in the city, along with photos and articles about the struggle for domestic partnership registration and other landmark issues brought before city council.

“We are still in the planning stages,” said Naify.  “One of our main goals is to make this an inclusive project. We have set up a Facebook page and welcome your comments.  The result will be an important milestone for our community and I am very excited to be a part of it.”

To donate historically valuable materials, contact Letticia Montoya from the HSLB at  For more information about the LGBT Project in general, contact the HSLB at 562-424-2220, and to connect with the LGBT History Project, log onto Facebook at or tweet @ LB_LGBTHistory.

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