By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
SEPT. 7, 1974 Police harassment of gay bars in Garden Grove has been an ongoing problem. The Advocate reports that bar patrons have had address books stolen from their cars, and anyone arrested on a lewd-conduct charge (which often involves nothing more than hugging, kissing and hand-holding) has the names and addresses of their acquaintances copied down by police. Things come to a head on this day, when nearly 500 demonstrators hold a 1.5-mile march down Garden Grove Boulevard to protest a recent spate of 43 arrests. The crowds chant slogans like "Two, four, six, eight, how do you know your son is straight?" The march ends with several speeches at Garden Grove City Hall. The Advocate interviews a gas-station manager on what he thinks of it all: "I guess it's all right, if that's what they want to do. I think I'd rather see them out marching than a bunch of communists or draft dodgers." Another bystander is less sympathetic: "I was aware [of all the gay bars in town]. I've been beating them up for a long time."
1976 Exodus International, a "reparative therapy" group that attempts to change gays and lesbians into perfect specimens of heterosexuality, is founded at Anaheim's Melodyland Christian Center by Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper. But on a plane ride while stumping for the group, the pair realize they've fallen in love—with each other. They quit the organization and begin speaking out about the harmful effects of reparative therapy programs. Now based in Seattle, Exodus has grown into one of the largest of such groups—though they don't like to talk about their founders, whose story is told in a 1993 PBS documentary.
JUNE 18, 1976 A group of about 20 transsexuals meet for a potluck dinner at a private home in Costa Mesa to stir up interest in a trannie-support group in OC. A special guest of the evening is Laguna Niguel resident Christine Jorgensen, who in 1952 underwent the world's first sex-change operation. News of the event runs in Renaissance, a Santa Ana-based newsletter for transsexuals.
SEPT. 14, 1977 The San Clemente Sun-Post reports on the growing number of military men from nearby Camp Pendleton who are coming into town and prostituting themselves to older gay men.
1978 John Briggs, a Republican state senator from Fullerton, gets an initiative placed on the November ballot, the Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6), which if passed would make it illegal for California public schools to hire gay teachers, mandate the removal of any teacher discovered to be gay after he or she is hired, and prohibit even straight teachers from portraying homosexuality in a positive light, under the penalty of dismissal. Prop. 6 is so smelly, even Ronald Reagan speaks out against it. But supporters include Anaheim burger magnate Carl Karcher—the initiative's No. 1 financial contributor—and soon-to-be-infamous homophobe the Reverend Lou Sheldon. While stumping for Prop. 6 in San Francisco, Briggs calls the city "the moral garbage dump of homosexuality in this country," to which Harvey Milk replies, "Nobody likes garbage 'cause it smells. Yet 8 million tourists visited San Francisco last year. I wonder how many visited Fullerton?"
MAY 25, 1978 Upward of 20,000 people attend the first-ever "gay night" at Disneyland, which is sponsored in part by a West Hollywood disco. Dance floors are closed off for the evening, however. Attached to every pre-sale ticket is a dress code ("No drags"), plus an order against passing out pamphlets or leaflets. "This is the Gay Woodstock!" exults one reveler. People from outside the county, though, are a bit paranoid about going anywhere near OC. Says one gay activist, "I just know this whole thing is a plot. Anita Bryant has rented a crop duster, and she's going to spray the Magic Queendom with deadly paraquat!" A park employee working in Tomorrowland tells New West Magazine, "Hell, these people aren't so weird. You shoulda been here for the psychiatrists' convention. They said that Dumbo was a symbol to adults of penis envy. Now they were weird."
NOV. 7, 1978 Prop. 6 is defeated at the polls by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. "Mark my words," Briggs tells 250 supporters at an election-night party at the South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa, "the battle is not over." Oh, but it is, sweetheart.
SEPT. 23-25, 1979 The Register runs an excellent, generally positive three-part series on gay and lesbian life in OC written by staffer Lori Weisberg. However, many of the people interviewed for the story don't want their names used.
SEPT. 13, 1980 Andrew Exler, a 19-year-old Loara High School graduate, and his male date, Shawn Elliot, are booted out of Disneyland for dancing together. They had only been doing so for a couple of minutes when Tomorrowland Terrace security guards escorted them off the floor and out of the park. One guard tells them, "This is a family park. There's no room for alternative lifestyles here." Exler sues.
FALL 1980 The Orange County Gay & Lesbian Resource Booklet is published. It's a 34-page user's guide to queer OC, with phone numbers and addresses for community, political and health organizations; bars; and gay-accepting churches.