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  • First Pride Guide, 1984
  • "Unity and More in '84" t-shirt
  • Parade float, 1984
  • Spectators watching parade floats, 1984
  • Deanna Leach and friend at the Festival, 1984

1984: “Celebration ‘84, A Decade of Pride”

"Unity and More in '84" t-shirt

“Unity and More in ’84” t-shirt. Pride T-shirt Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

1984 marked the 15th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the 10-year anniversary of the San Diego Pride march. As such, Lambda Pride adopted the national theme “Unity and More in ‘84” and a local theme “Celebration ‘84, A Decade of Pride.” A number of changes took place that year. The first annual Lambda Pride Art Auction was held as a fundraiser on the Invader cruise ship. The first ever Pride Guide, a small informational booklet of planned festivities, was published and sold. The budget nearly doubled from the previous year to $30,000. And surprisingly, for only the second time in Pride planning history, there were no issues with obtaining permits. After a two year hiatus, the rally returned, and Pride events were held from Friday to Sunday.

First Pride Guide, 1984

First official Pride Guide, 1984. Lambda Archives of San Diego.

Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalists protested extensively in the weeks leading up to Pride that year. In anticipation of their presence at the parade, activist Mary Lou SanBlise and her partner, Sandy, trained twenty-five people to establish a human “buffer zone” between the parade marchers and the fundies. This group became known as the “Future Former Fundy Fighters.” They wore white t-shirts, lavender sashes, and jeans, and were instructed to smile, laugh, and sing in the presence of fundies. As anticipated, a few hundred fundies indeed protested the parade. Catholic counter-protesters joined in to combat the message of the fundies and the Pride Guide provided instructions on “What To Do In The Event of a Fundy Attack.” Another source of controversy that year was in-fighting amongst Lambda Pride board members. Doug Moore, Lambda Pride founder, resigned from the board of directors a month before Pride weekend. Despite conciliation attempts, a resolution wasn’t met, and after five years of service, Moore did not finish out his term in 1985.

Celebrations kicked off on Friday, June 8th with a Gay Pride Concert at Old Town Opera House. Featured artists included folk duo Romanovsky and Phillips, blues act Sue Palmer & Friends, Christian gospel group Daybreak Quartet, Ana Gaspar, and The Infernoz. The Gay Pride Run began the next morning at 8 a.m. Professionals were stationed to apply clown make-up to those who wished not to be recognized at the events. The parade began at noon on June 9th at Sixth and Laurel, lead by the GAY Freedom Band. The number of contingents grew this year to seventy-four and approximately twelve hundred people participated in the parade, with an estimated six to ten thousand spectators. Jeri Dilno was selected as the 1984 Grand Marshal but withdrew her acceptance. Nicole Murray was selected as the honorary Grand Marshal.

Spectators watching parade floats, 1984

Spectators watching parade floats pass by, 1984. Bridget Wilson Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

Parade float, 1984

Parade float, 1984. Bridget Wilson Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

Following the parade, the rally took place at Juniper and Balboa Drive. Planned speakers included Nicole Murray, Vice President of the San Diego Log Cabin Republicans, Bridget Wilson, Vice President of the San Diego Democratic Club, and Reverend David Farrell of the Metropolitan Community Church. Reportedly, Farrell didn’t arrive and David Manley improvised by singing the Star Spangled Banner, with the crowd joining in. Owing to the onslaught of fundamentalist protesters and the anniversaries of Stonewall and San Diego Pride, speeches were politically bent and called for unity and resistance. Five thousand reportedly attended the rally.

Deanna Leach and friend at the Festival, 1984

Deanna Leach of Paradigm Publishing and friend at the Festival, 1984. Doug Moore Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

The festival occurred the following day from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm in the West Coast Production Company parking lot. A thirty foot high lavender wizard balloon greeted attendees at the entrance, where they paid $2 admission. The festival grounds grew to fifty-eight thousand square feet and required over two hundred volunteers. For the first time, the San Diego Police Department regulated the festival. Another new addition was a display of Doug Moore’s Pride collection, featuring posters, notes, t-shirts, and buttons from previous years. At least four thousand attended the festival. Mayor Hedgecock once again proclaimed the Saturday of Pride weekend “Human Rights Day,” which the community rejected, as he had pledged to proclaim a “Gay Pride Day” to make up for the previous year. However, his election poll numbers during Pride week were low, which likely prompted his negligence. This year also marks the formation of the Blood Sisters, a group of lesbians who led blood drives for HIV-infected men.