Orange County
Queer History Project

A digital humanities project dedicated to collecting, preserving, and displaying Orange County, California’s queer history.

What we do

Archival Collection

Visiting and consulting archives across the United States for information and records on Orange County queer activism

Community Engagement

Working alongside of the Orange County queer community to document and preserve queer history.

Educational Programs

Spreading the word about Orange County queer history through speaking engagements and presentations.

Exhibits

Creating physical and digital exhibits on significant organizations, people, and events in Orange County queer history.

Mapping & Timeline

Creating a digital map of important sites in Orange County queer history and an interactive timeline of significant events in Orange County queer history.

Oral History

Conducting oral history interviews with Orange County queer activists in order to preserve their history. Transcribing these interviews and making content within them publicly available, with interviewee permission.

A digital humanities project dedicated to collecting, preserving, and displaying Orange County, California’s queer history.

“The Orange County incident has been referred to by some activists in New York as ‘Stonewall West’ and while the violence was unfortunate, an important statement was made: lesbians, gays and persons with AIDS (PWAs) will not sit idly by…”

Andrew Ross Exler, “Freedom of Speech at Pride,” Gay Community News 17 no. 28 (January 28-February 3, 1990): 3.

On September 9th and 10th, 1989, Orange County, California hosted its first queer pride event. Orange County Cultural Pride, as it was called, was a celebration of a decade of large-scale public activism for queer rights, and of a community that had existed in the county since it gained its reputation as a suburban utopia following World War II. Thousands of people from around the state of California, and even from across the country, attended the event in Santa Ana’s Centennial Park. Yet not everyone in attendance was there to celebrate. Standing just outside the park’s perimeter were protesters declaring the event to be sinful, immoral, and/or a danger to the community. When these protesters were met with counterprotest from radical queer rights activists on September 10th, violence soon followed, and six people were arrested. The celebration soon became overshadowed by the violence that occurred that Sunday afternoon, and rather than being remembered as a pivotal moment in Orange County history, 1989’s Cultural Pride became known to many as “Stonewall West.”

Those familiar with Orange queer might be surprised to read that it was once the host of a vibrant LGBT rights movement and “Stonewall West.” The Los Angeles suburb has gained a reputation for its conservatism and seeming heteronormativity. Unfortunately, Orange County’s queer history has been lost and obscured over the past forty years as the radical activists that once called this area home moved elsewhere, passed away, or settled down. Our goal at the OCQHP is to ensure that this history will not be lost to time. 

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