LGBT History Project: "Coming Out in Long Beach"
Everyone is invited to join in the celebration for the LGBT History Project at the Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB, as a yearlong exhibit entitled "Coming Out in Long Beach" opens this month. The exhibit is set to highlight the struggle for equal rights and the tremendous contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Long Beach. More importantly, the HSLB provides a permanent home-a record of the individual and collective contributions along the journey for equality- for future generations to come.
The HSLB set forth on the major endeavor to preserve and present the history of the city’s LGBT community last summer, convening with a steering committee to oversee the completion of an exhibit that includes the compilation of oral histories and the production of a video documentary. "Since then organizers have secured a title sponsor for the project-Mercedes Benz Long Beach-to help put the materials together and to preserve them for future use," says Julie Bartolotto, executive director of the HSLB.
Bartolotto co-chairs the steering committee along with Marsha Naify, former President of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club. The committee 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, 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, the project is poised to 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," Briegel notes. "I believe this project will help show that Long Beach had a large role in expanding LGBT rights."
Bartolotto says a wide variety of items have been collected, specifically she notes, there are many banners and buttons from Pride Parades gone by. Some of the pieces also on the preservation list are from a time when the city council tried to block the festivities, which has come to be one of the largest annual celebrations in the city.