Yes, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of San Diego’s renowned Balboa Park and there are continuing events celebrating this historic landmark as there should be. Balboa Park has played a great part in the history of San Diego’s LGBT community. From social, political, HIV-AIDS demonstrations and Pride, etc. In fact, this year marks the 40th anniversary of our first Pride event, a “gay pride march”. I had the honor of speaking at our first Pride rally 40 years ago in Balboa Park along with George Raya, then “Dean” the Rev. David Farrell and others. I was dressed as the then reigning “Empress IV de San Diego”.
In truth and reality, Balboa Park for decades served as a “meeting” (cruising) place for gay men. In bushes, trail ways, park benches, and yes, bathrooms.
Before any of you get judgmental, here is another important reality check, California did not legalize “homosexual acts” until 1976. Yes, we LGBT people were considered “deviants” and “perverts” and just by a signature of your parent’s doctor or judge any homosexual could and was committed to a state mental hospital where you were subject to electric shock treatment and sometimes even a lobotomy; I had friends that were subjected to this in the 1960s and 1970s. Almost everyone was in the deep “closet” and you were very brave to go and be seen at a homosexual bar or hangout (gay people could not own a bar or be issued a liquor license).
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