News / In Depth

MelloHistorical Society of Long Beach Announces LBGT History Project

by Joe Mello, Community Correspondent


(August 17, 2012) -- The Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB) has launched a history project to collect, document and preserve the history of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LBGT) communities in Long Beach. The stated goal of the LBBT History Project is to "understand how the LBGT community was formed in Long Beach."

HSLB says its History Project got underway in July, and in February 2013 will open a yearlong exhibition of historical materials titled "Coming Out in Long Beach" at HSLB's headquarters on Atlantic Ave. in Bixby Knolls, highlighting the "struggles and contributions" of the LGBT community in Long Beach. The HSLB indicates that it's accepting donations of historically valuable materials to be housed at HSLB for future generations.

Examples of items already donated for inclusion in the exhibit are documents related to the struggles in Long Beach for the first Pride Parade and the local Domestic Partnership registration ordinance. The exhibit collection also includes a Gold Album from Melissa Etheridge who early in her career performed at two Long Beach lesbian bars - the Que Sera on Anaheim Street and the Executive Suite on Pacific Coast Highway.

Dr. Kaye Briegel, named as the project’s historian, is quoted as stating "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."

According to a 2007 UCLA study, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana statistical metropolitan area is second only to the New York City metropolitan area in LBGT population. Despite its proximity to Los Angeles, Long Beach’s gay population has in many ways stood out.

Long Beach is home to the 3rd largest Gay Pride celebration in the United States. The yearly event is the second largest event in the city (second only to the Grand Prix). Long Beach’s Broadway Corridor in the Alamitos Beach neighborhood was long considered a gay neighborhood before gentrification and still hosts many business that cater to a predominantly gay clientele.

Long Beach was a center of protests following voter passage of Proposition 8 (2008 statewide ballot measure banned same sex marriage). Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church came to Long Beach to highlight their views...and were outnumbered by counter-demonstrators outside Wilson High School. The city has announced plans for the first park dedicated to openly gay assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. That park will include a portion dedicated to local gay leaders.

Long Beach has had three openly gay elected City Council members: former 2nd district Councilman/Vice Mayor Dan Baker (elected 1999, resigned 2006) and two current incumbents, 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (elected 2006) and 1st District Councilman/Vice Mayor Robert Garcia (elected 2009).

The historical society’s LGBT History Project is co-chaired by HSLB Executive Director Julie Bartolloto and Marsha Naify, the former President of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club. Persons interested in donating historically valuable materials are asked to contact the historical society’s Letticia Montoya at, or for more information contact the HSLB at (562) 424-2220 or see their Facebook page at

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