Queer Santa Cruz

Explore the important contributions, impact, and history of the LGBTQ+ community in Santa Cruz County.

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October 1, 2021 - September 22, 2024

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Debuting Online, In-Person Opening October 2021

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Explore the important contributions, impact, and history of Santa Cruz County's LGBTQ+ community in a pop-up exhibit co-created with The Diversity Center.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the shelter in place order, this exhibit is the MAH's first online exhibition. Debuting online in 2020, the in-person exhibit opened in October 2021 and is on display in the History Gallery through September 2024. Browse archival photographs, flyers, testimonies, and ephemera in this breakout pod within the Permanent Santa Cruz County History Gallery. Learn how the LGBTQ+ community worked to generate empathy and understanding throughout Santa Cruz County and are now working to archive their history in a permanent collection.

Plus, watch and listen to the Trailblazers Oral History Project sponsored by the History Forum's Dolkas-Mertz Award. This collection of oral histories documents the local LGBTQ+ community, honoring the people who championed the movements and empowered the community.

Exhibition Related Events

In 2020, local historians and community members joined the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County in history webinars related to the different parts of the Queer Santa Cruz exhibition. Watch each of the webinars on Youtube, linked below.

Previous Webinars:

  1. Lesbian and Gay Men's Union (LAGMU)
  2. The First Santa Cruz Pride Event
  3. Santa Cruz AIDS Project a Model for the Nation
  4. Gay Men's Volleyball in the 1980s
  5. Pajaro Valley Pride Takes Flight in 2015
  6. The Diversity Center is Founded in 1989
  7. Watsonville High: What's in a Name and the First GSA
  8. Radical Faeries in Santa Cruz - 1980s

Meet our Collaborators

Diversity Center logo

The Diversity Center, founded in 1989, is an organization that impacts the lives of tens of thousands of Santa Cruz residents each year. Through the creation of education outreach programs that develop LGBTQ+ youth leaders, promote tolerance towards local trans communities, reduce sentiments of isolation by connecting seniors, veterans, youth and Latinx groups to one another, and providing learning opportunities about the LGTBQ+ community at large The Diversity Center relies on volunteer efforts as well an administrative structure to enact change in Santa Cruz for decades.

Proudly Sponsored By:

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“Pride is about visibility; with visibility comes acceptance... We’re not interested in tolerance from the community, we want acceptance.”

Nahum Rivera, Watsonville Pride Coordinator, 2015

Thank You to All Our Collaborators

  • The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County
  • Queer Youth Task Force
  • Pat Dellin
  • Rob Darrow
  • Emilio Barajas
  • John Laird
  • Phillip Longo
  • Bristol Cave-LaCoste
  • Students from UCSC’s Queer History Class
  • Wyatt Young
  • Sharon Papo
  • Alex Santana, Jr.
  • Jerry Solomon
  • Jo Kenny
  • Gloria Nieto
  • Kater Pollock
  • Larry Friedman
  • Lauren Cruz
  • Sandy Stone
  • Stella Moreno
  • Adam Spickler
  • Jane Schwickerath
  • Dan Dickmeyer
  • Stuart Rosenstein

In the News

New Exhibit Highlights Local Role in the Push for LGBTQ+ Rights

"The exhibition is not only designed to illuminate the struggles against discrimination and homophobic hostility. It’s also meant to evoke the good times as well, the sense of solidarity and shared experience in the LGBTQ+ community in the early days."

Read More
Digital Archive: Queerstory
Click here to access the archives

Continue the Learning

LGBTQ+ is an initialism (an abbreviation) that means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning. LGBTQ+ is used to mean all of the communities within the spectrum. LGBTQ+ community’s story is part of a larger, shared Santa Cruz County history. It is a history that must be preserved.

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