Through a series of complex and strange circumstances, I've found myself taking a great interest in diving into those dusty archives and telling the stories most have forgotten, or never learned…about segregated schools, about exploitation of Mexican Americans, exclusion of African Americans, about the KKK, about protest and social change that came very slowly, and continues to come.
Recently, as a result of a documentary I'm working on, I've begun diving into the history of Fullerton (and Orange County's) LGBT community. This is another part of the history of my town that is not widely known or well-documented in any official capacity. But here's why it matters: Fullerton, California, this sleepy suburban town, produced the most anti-LGBT politician in US history: State Senator John Briggs. In 1978, Briggs proposed a proposition that would have made it legal for public schools to fire teachers for being gay.
This is a tremendously important historical fact which raises all kinds of interesting questions like: What was the social/political/religious climate in Fullerton in 1978 that would have made such a thing possible? What other local politicians and leaders proposed discriminatory measures like this? It's deeply embarrassing and uncomfortable to think about but it's also deeply important because it's true. It really happened.
My film is about an art exhibit in support of marriage equality and the LGBT community, but it is also about local history, specifically local LGBT history. I feel inspired to tell these previously untold stories because so far no one's bothered to tell them. At least not in the form of a documentary film. How is it that a straight guy like me, who grew up in a conservative church in Fullerton, ended up making a documentary about art and local LGBT history and social change? I don't know, but its happening and I'm excited to be working on it, because it's all true.
Here's a clip from the film-in-progress in which I discuss a timeline installation I made of Orange County LGBT history: