Saturday, May 4, 2013

Orange County LGBT Historical Timeline @ BOOKMACHINE

One of my contributions to the LOVE. SEX. UNITY. RESPECT. art show at The Magoski Arts Colony this month is an installation of Orange County LGBT history in the form of a large timeline.  As someone who is interested in Orange County history, especially suppressed history, I felt that this installation would add some historical context to an exhibit about marriage equality and a celebration of the LGBT community in Orange County, a community that has faced a lot of persecution and struggle over the years.

The timeline is in BOOKMACHINE books + zines, one of the only independent book stores left in Fullerton.  I specialize in indie books and zines. 

I got the information for the timeline from the UCI LGBT Resource Center Timeline project.  UCI recently complied a special collection of Orange County LGBT history, a great resource for scholars and anyone interested in understanding this aspect of our past.  You can read the whole timeline project online HERE.  

Some of the documents featured in the timeline include gay and lesbian newsletters, publications, political advocacy groups, and lots more.  I got many of these documents from The Center OC, Orange County's oldest lesbian and gay center.  Kevin O'Grady, the center director, who was recently named one of Orange County's most influential people, graciously loaned me these documents.  Kevin liked the timeline, so I offered to re-create it in The Center when the exhibit is finished.  Kevin said he would love it.  I feel honored.

I also pulled some images from online, to give a visual component to the timeline.  One of the most notorious events in the Orange County LGBT civil rights struggle was Prop 6 (aka The Briggs Initiative) in 1978.  This is probably the most discriminatory piece of legislation against the LGBT community in California history, and it was proposed by a state senator from Fullerton named John Briggs.  It would have allowed public schools in California to fire teachers for being gay.  Thankfully, it was defeated, but it left a bitter legacy in my community of Fullerton.  Fullerton actually had a cameo in the recent film Milk, in which gay rights icon Harvey Milk debated Briggs at Cal State Fullerton.

Here is a photo of Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, who co-founded Exodus International ministries in Anaheim, which sought to use Christianity to make people not gay anymore.  This practice, called "reparative therapy," has been roundly rejected by the American Psychological Association.  Bussee and Cooper eventually fell in love with each other, left the organization, and are now a happily committed gay couple.  Michael has since apologized for the harm his organization has caused.

I used yarn to connect the dots of the timeline, because I like yarn.

This installation, and the whole LOVE. SEX. UNITY. RESPECT. art exhibit, will be up until the end of the month.  Visit for more info.

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