Above: Still promoting the Circa program Stories of Sex Work at The Mic @ Micky’s, happening October 4, 2023. Located in the heart of West Hollywood, Micky’s Weho is one of the most iconic and oldest gay bars in Los Angeles, known not just for its live entertainment but for its community based events and fundraisers.
October is recognized as LGBTQ+ History Month, which highlights and celebrates the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, and other gender identities and sexual orientations. At California Humanities, we’ve long been a supporter of humanities projects that highlight the diversity of this community, and that show the ways in which LGBTQ+ lives intersect with other parts of the lived experience. Below, we’re ssharing upcoming grantee projects that highlight LGBTQ+ stories across the Golden State.
Circa: Queer Histories Festival
Project Director: One Institute
When: October 1-29, 2023
Where: Across LA County and online
Supported by a spring 2023 Humanities for All Project grant, Circa is a month-long, LA County-wide programming series showcasing the trailblazing histories and vibrant cultural contributions of LGBTQ+ communities through the lens of present-day challenges and triumphs. Through exhibitions, performance, readings, screenings, lectures, dialogues, and parties, Circa features queer and trans artists, activists, and educators leading the movement for LGBTQ+ liberation.
“Circa, the nation’s first ever LGBTQ+ history festival, is bringing together over 200 artists, educators, and activists to host dozens of programs across the queer humanities to shine a light on our rich history and culture,” said Tony Valenzuela, One Institute’s Executive Director. “Held during LGBTQ+ History Month, Circa is the capstone event of One’s 70th anniversary of service to queer and trans communities.”
Participating organizations include the ACLU of Southern California, Celebration Theatre, the Getty Research Institute, Williams Institute, Lambda Literary, Museum of Neon Art, the Goethe-Institut, William Grant Still Arts Center, Gender Justice LA, and more.
A People’s Museum of LGBTQ+ History
October 8, 2023 | Los Angeles LGBT Center
Courtesy of One Institute
HIV/AIDS: A Literary History
October 16, 2023 | One Gallery
Courtesy of One Institute
Program participants include pioneering cleric and activist Reverend Troy Perry, trailblazing photographer body artist Sheree Rose, criminal defense attorney and civil rights activist Mia Yamamoto, founder of the Black AIDS Institute Phill Wilson, Making Gay History podcaster Eric Marcus, Lambda Literary Award winner Abdi Nazemian, TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo, cultural anthropologist Dr. Gayle Rubin, artist Dorian Wood, groundbreaking actor Michael Kearns, and young artist and activist Mars Wright and many more.
“Circa, the nation’s first ever LGBTQ+ history festival, is bringing together over 200 artists, educators, and activists to host dozens of programs across the queer humanities to shine a light on our rich history and culture.”
– Tony Valenzuela
Through Our Lens: Laura Aguilar’s Latina Lesbian Series
October 21, 2023 | Los Angeles LGBT Center
Courtesy of One Institute
Light in the Dark: Queer Narratives in Neon Gallery Talk
October 29, 2023 | Museum of Neon Art
Courtesy of One Institute
Circa has over 70 events happening at over 30 sites across the county and online, and all events are made available at free to low cost to the public.
The Stories of the Gay Rodeo / That Damn Horse
Project Director: Autry Museum of the American West
When: November 2, 2023, 7 pm PT
Where: Wells Fargo Theater, Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles
Recently awarded a summer 2023 Humanities for All Quick Grant, Sharing the Stories of Gay Rodeo aims to engage, educate, and inspire inquiry about California gay rodeo history. This four-part program includes an Archives Workshop and Clinic, a tour of the Autry’s Imagined Wests exhibition and the case featuring California gay rodeo archival materials, a staged reading of the verbatim play, “That Damn Horse: Stories of the Gay Rodeo,” and a discussion about the experiences and roles of the panelists in capturing the histories embodied in The Gay Rodeo Oral History Project.
“Sharing The Stories of Gay Rodeo perfectly represents the way community history, academic scholarship, and museums and archives can come together to share histories and ideas with a wide public,” said Josh Garrett-Davis, Gamble Curator of Western History and Popular Culture at the Autry Museum. “Since the International Gay Rodeo Association donated its Institutional Archives to the Autry Museum in 2009, the collection has helped our institution re-envision how we understand the American West. The archives have supported new scholarship by researchers including historians Elyssa Ford and Rebecca Scofield, co-authors of the new book Slapping Leather: Queer Cowfolx at the Gay Rodeo. The archives and the IGRA community have also added a crucial dimension to the Autry’s new long-term exhibition Imagined Wests.”
The Autry’s Libraries & Archives will host a DIY archiving workshop on November 2, highlighting archival materials related to Gay Rodeo and provide guidance on how to care for your personal archives. They’ll cover the DIY preservation of photographs, scrapbooks, letters, media, and more, along with case studies and answers to some of your most pressing questions.
Later in the evening on November 2, the museum will host “That Damn Horse,” a performance drawn from over 60 interviews in the Voices of Gay Rodeo Oral History Project, (housed in the Autry archives). It weaves together the many voices who represent the diversity of gay rodeo, from old timers to newcomers and across gender and sexual identities. By bringing together imagination and fact through verbatim theater, the playwrights hope to combine gay rodeoers’ broader individual experiences to capture a message about joy, survival, and family.
“Sharing The Stories of Gay Rodeo perfectly represents the way community history, academic scholarship, and museums and archives can come together to share histories and ideas with a wide public.”
– Josh Garrett-Davis
“And That Damn Horse brings the Voices of Gay Rodeo Oral History Project into yet another dimension as talented artists embody the history in a shared performance setting,” Garrett-Davis said. “The Autry is so proud to partner with gay rodeo community members, the University of Idaho, the California State Library, and California Humanities to bring this staged reading to Los Angeles.”
NorCal OUTreach Project: The history of the LGBTQIA+ community in northern California
Project Director: NorCal OUTreach Project
When: Exact dates tbd
Also a summer 2023 Quick Grant recipient, NorCal Outreach Project will develop a slide show presentation “that depicts the LGBTQIA+ history of the greater Northern California area.” Based in Redding, California, NorCal Outreach Project is a nonprofit organization that provides social connection, public events, support groups, and educational training. This includes the counties of Tehama, Shasta, Trinity, Siskiyou, and Lassen counties.
The slide show will include events, persons, physical locations, public and private entities, media reports, and more, and will be presented to local ally agencies as well as the local historical society. This program will run from October 2023 through August 2024, so follow NorCal OUTreach on social media and visit their website for the latest news.
Producer and Director: Deborah Craig
Sponsor Organization: Center for Independent Documentary
Sally Gearhart was a charismatic radical lesbian activist, author, and academic who spearheaded the 1970s and 80s lesbian feminist movement. Among other things, Sally helped co-found the Women Studies Department at San Francisco State University in the early 1970s (one of the first in the nation), appeared in the groundbreaking film WORD IS OUT (1977), and fought the anti-LGBT Briggs Initiative side-by-side with San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (1978). As an author, one of her most well-known works was a fantasy novel, The Wanderground, which imagined a female-centric utopia (1978). Despite this, Gearhart has been largely overlooked by history. The upcoming documentary SALLY from director Deborah Craig aims to correct that, though the film is much more than a biography. It looks at all the complexities and tensions inherent in movements for social change built around ideological principles.
To learn more about SALLY, click here: https://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/sally/sallyinterview
TO THE FUTURE, WITH LOVE
Produced in collaboration with: Shaleece Haas and Hunter ‘Pixel’ Jimenez
Finally, we want to revisit the short film commissioned by California Humanities as part of our YouthDocs series, TO THE FUTURE, WITH LOVE. Produced in collaboration between filmmaker Shaleece Haas and Hunter ‘Pixel’ Jimenez, a nonbinary teenager caught between the expectations of his Guatemalan immigrant family and his dreams of living happily ever after with his long-distance boyfriend, TO THE FUTURE, WITH LOVE tells Hunter’s story through hand-drawn animation and intimate voice-over.
“Often in the media, the LGBT community has been portrayed on a very surface level, represented as stereotypes rather than as real people with lives and stories that go beyond an either basic or over-the-top narrative. Quite literally, I wanted to paint my canvas in a way that shows my story in a way that can resonate with others.”
– Hunter ‘Pixel’ Jimenez
Watch the short film now, courtesy of PBS: