OC Gay Timeline

OC Historical Timeline

– sample data from the Orange County LGBT Time Line Project, courtesy of B.L. Muirhead

1927

The South Seas Bar opens in Laguna Beach (it is later named the “Boom Boom Room”). Like many of the early gay bars, it was straight during the daylight hours and gay after dark.

1957

Only two years after Disneyland opened, the theme park adopted a ban on same-sex “shimmying”. Thinly veiled as a crowd control measure, this ban remained until 1985.

1962

The Happy Hour, a lesbian bar, opens in Garden Grove. It remained open until 2003, marking it as the oldest continuously operating lesbian bar in the county.

1964

A Tent City existed in downtown Laguna Beach and was very popular with the gay summer crowd. Police sweeps of Laguna Beach gave the city the nickname of “Fag City.”

Art Frink and Harry Moon open the Cottage Restaurant in Laguna Beach. It has been community stalwart ever since.

1966

The Santa Ana Register (now The OC Register) reports a “crackdown of suspected homosexuals” who had allegedly been propositioning undercover police officers in the Newport Pier area. The newspaper prints their names, ages, home addresses and occupations before they are ever convicted.

1971

Christ Chapel MCC becomes the first gay and lesbian organization in Orange County.

Sam Warren published the first Orange County gay newsletter, Focus

1972

John Rule hosts what will eventually become the Center OC in his home.

Al Potts, owner of he Garden Grove gay bar “Mug”, was killed and mutilated. Police action was invisible.

1974

The owner of the Climax bar was arrested by Orange County Sheriffs for offering after hours dancing at his club. He was pistol whipped by two deputies after being identified as gay.

1976

Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper founded Exodus International, a “reparative therapy” group at Anaheim’s Melodyland Christian Center. They later become lovers and left the organization.

1978

15,000 people attend the first-ever “gay night” at Disneyland. When Disney realized it was a gay organization, they cancelled live music, closed the dance floors, and instructed security that “courtesy was optional.”

1980

Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove is dedicated. Gay architect Philip Johnson designed it.

1981

AIDS was first identified in Orange County.

1984

Courts strike down the 27-year ban on same-sex dancing at Disneyland. (It was not completed lifted until 1989)

1985

AIDS Services Foundation (ASF) was established.

1987

AIDS Walk Orange County was formed

Laguna Shanti is founded

Vincent Chalk, an OC middle school teacher who was fired because he had AIDS, wins reinstatement in a wrongful-termination ruling.

1989

The first Annual Festival and Parade, Orange County Cultural Pride was held in Santa Ana. Over 2,000 people attended.

1990

ACT UP/Orange County is established.

1991

Five member of ACT UP/OC leave 170 pounds of steer manure outside the Anaheim office of Lou Sheldon’s “Traditional Values Coalition.”

1992

The first issue of The Blade, an alternative publication serving Long Beach and Orange County, hits the news stand

The UCI GLBSU and UCI Department of Studio Art hosted the county’s First Annual Festival of Lesbian and Gay Film and Video

1993

A man is beaten in Laguna Beach by a carload of South County high school students out on a gay-bashing spree.

Alan Schwalbe, a gay activist, was found slain in the kitchen of his Santa Ana Heights home. The insensitive coverage by some of the county press brought action that forever changed how the media writes about the community.

1994

First Annual Laguna Pride Weekend was sponsored by Laguna Outreach. The City Council withdrew support of second event in1995.)

1995

The city of Garden Grove began a concerted effort to remove the gay/lesbian establishments from Garden Grove Blvd., spurred by pressure from the Christian Right and the Korean business community.

The University of California at Irvine (UCI) announces the opening of the only Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Resource Center in the University of California system.

1996

Scott Stockwell is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the brutal slaying of gay businessman Boyd Finkal in Irvine. A juror stated, “It was OK to defend against alleged homosexual advances by whatever means necessary.”

Libby Cowan, the first openly gay/lesbian candidate to run for office in Orange County, is elected to the Costa Mesa City Council

2007

The Boom Boom Room, a gay bar in Laguna Beach since 1927 (originally named The Mermaid Room), closes on September 2. Many protest the closure, as “The Boom” was considered a historic site for the gay community.

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