A proud group gathers outside of the Gay Center for Social Services at 23rd and B streets in 1973.
From pivotal moments like the 1960s gay-ins to Nicole Murray-Ramirez’s speech on the AIDS crisis in 1987, pride runs deep in San Diego. The San Diego History Center sheds light on the history by debuting the LGBTQ+ San Diego: Stories of Struggle + Triumphs exhibit, and in conjunction, the Legendary Drag Queens of San Diego exhibit. Curated by LGBTQ historian Dr. Lillian Faderman in collaboration with the Imperial Court de San Diego and Murray-Ramirez (Queen Mother), over-the-top gowns and sparkling tiaras—even the crown jewels of the Imperial court—are presented by leading drag queens and kings. Queens including the iconic Chad Michaels and Empress Nicole the Great (Murray-Ramirez) spent months creating the showstopping displays, and while the colorful costumes draw the community in, Faderman hopes people leave with a better understanding of the groups’ impacts, especially their charitable contributions. At the top of the donation list? The San Diego LGBT Community Center, which began as a 24-hour counseling hotline in the ’70s before moving from its original location (pictured above) in 1980 to Hillcrest, where it operates today. “The queens are using drag for entertainment purposes but also to raise phenomenal amounts of money,” says Faderman. “I think it’s very brave and very moving.” Through Sept. 8
Photography by: Lambda Archives of San Diego