Saturday night marked a milestone in the historical impact of Long Beach as a center of LGBT culture in Southern California. For the past 9 month, the Long Beach Historical Society has held the reigns of a monstrous project showcasing LGBT history in our city. Print culture, oral histories, photographs, and numerous historical archives are being used by the Society to contribute to an ever growing historical conversation painting Southern California as a queer capital of existence and resistance long before Stonewall.
GetoutLB had the pleasure of attending the the opening gala of the Long Beach Historical Society’s exhibition, “Coming Out in Long Beach.” The exhibition, scheduled to be on display for the next year, documents the LGBT communities history and struggle for equality in our city. It was a great party! One of the most exciting moments for us was being ushered in front of Grammy Award Winner Melissa Etheridge, who graciously described to us how she came to Long Beach from Kansas via her aunts house in Los Angeles and a chance meeting of a girl from Long Beach.
“I met this girl at Pink Flamingos, she was from Long Beach and she was the one that introduced to me to The Executive Suite. When I came to Long Beach and specially at the Executive Suite and Que Sera Sera, I thought to myself, boy, there are some beautiful women here in Long Beach. It was so nice to see everyone out and proud, so comfortable and happy. Then I started playing regularly at Que Sera Sera and I actually think we might’ve invented the mullet.”
Her story echos many of our own, she came to Long Beach and stayed because of the amazing community.
Community is what “Coming out in Long Beach” is all about. It is the first exhibition from the Historical Society’s LGBT History Project, which illuminates the contributions of our community to the history and culture of Long Beach. The LGBT History Project was started a year ago, they admit that they have just scratched the surface of that history. Perhaps, we as a community can help fill in those gaps.