History of Gay San Diego
San Diego has long been a city destined for travel and tourism. Its natural beauty and wonderful weather all year round have made this superb California city go down in history as a prime city to both visit and reside in. However, San Diego’s gay community has had a fascinating and, at times, controversial history.
Hillcrest is San Diego’s notorious gayborhood. While Hillcrest has always been a site of arts and culture, the LGBT community reinvigorated the area in the 1970’s by establishing business, residences, and organizations. Since then, Hillcrest has grown and thrived as San Diego’s primary gay neighborhood with gay and gay-friendly support around every corner- literally!
Important dates in San Diego’s gay history:
1974: After the city of San Diego refused a gay pride parade permit, 200 gays and lesbians took to the streets of downtown in protest
1975: The first city-permitted gay pride parade was held
1980: “The Center”- the LGBT Community Center formally known as the Center for Social Services- moved to Hillcrest
1984: The Hillcrest Business Association was formed
2001: Mercy Gardens was remodeled after its history as a convent for use by the HIV-positive community
2007: Hillcrest celebrates its first hundred years, complete with a birthday cake and centennial events
2012: The city of San Diego approved plans for a large rainbow flag to be hung at the corner of University and Normal Street
2012: The city of San Diego approved a change in street name from Blaine Avenue to the first ever Harvey Milk Street.
Whether you come to San Diego for the beaches, the great nightlife, or the rich and quirky gay community, you are bound to stumble upon the various traces of this city’s influential LGBT history. At the very least, take a stroll down the new Harvey Milk Street and catch a glimpse of the new flag- you too can contribute to San Diego’s gay history!