Making a Place Our Own: A History of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered Community Spaces

Summer 2009

Sarah Carlson : History

Mentor: Kerwin Klein, History

This summer I will be exploring the origins of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community spaces in the Bay Area. I am exploring primary sources such as newsletters and organizational records as well as doing oral history interviews with people closely involved in these centers. My study will span from the early 1950s, when many of the first homophile organizations opened offices in San Francisco, to the early 1980s, when local groups opened community centers throughout the Bay Area. Through this research, I hope to better understand the community wide effects of having a public space, besides the numerous gay bars. I also hope to show the importance of community centers to increasing awareness and acceptance of alternative sexual identities

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that SURF affords me to pursue my research with undivided attention. I look forward to learning from the other fellows in the program and developing a better understanding of the diversity of research that takes place on this campus. This fellowship allows me to devote my attention to the project without having to worry about providing for my basic necessities or transportation costs to do my interviews and research. I am extremely excited about this summer of intensive and rewarding explorations and was so eager to begin that I started reading microfilm just days after finishing my finals