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  • San Diego Lambda Pride car, 1986
  • Grand Marshals Bridget Wilson and Terry Cunningham, 1986
  • Police officers restraining Brian Barlow, 1986
  • "Pride '86" tank top

1986: “Forward Together”

San Diego Lambda Pride car, 1986

San Diego Lambda Pride car, 1986. Doug Moore Photograph Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

With a nearly new board of directors, Lambda Pride made some big changes. The budget grew to $95,000, nearly three times the budget of the previous year, and a two-day festival was planned for the first time. However, the ambitious new board experienced more turmoil than the previous year in the weeks leading up to Pride. Days after The Gayzette reported that 1986 Pride would be a “gargantuan” event, Lambda Pride announced they were broke and that Pride was canceled. With the date set and volunteers already in place, the gay community pulled together to ensure San Diego Pride would occur on its 12th anniversary. On May 19th, Tony Zampella organized an ad-hoc committee to save Pride, comprised of Lambda veterans Doug Moore, Chris Shaw, Michele Cody, Tom Tyrell, Chris Kehoe and Pat Burke. A public meeting was held at The Flame, and a new Lesbian and Gay Pride Association was formed, with David Manley selected as head coordinator. Chris Shaw, long time supporter of Pride, wrote a check for $5,000 to the new organization and once again offered the parking lot of West Coast Production Company for the festival. With only a month to coordinate events, the new Pride organization managed to pull off a parade, rally, and two-day festival.

"Pride '86" tank top

“Pride ’86” tank top, 1986. Pride T-shirt Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

On Saturday, June 7th, the parade departed at noon from Juniper and Sixth. With continued harassment from Christian fundamentalists, the Future Former Fundy Fighters were prepared to coordinate their usual human buffer zone. However, the San Diego Police Department wasn’t as cooperative as in previous years and prevented the group from doing so. The FFFFs were dispersed amongst the fundies on the sidewalks and chaos ensued. At one point, Brian Barlow, a member of the San Francisco Gay Marching Band, got into an altercation with a fundy resulting in police intervention. While being tackled by five officers, Barlow bit one of them. Barlow was arrested for assault and forced to provide a blood sample, without consent, on suspicion of AIDS.

Police officers restraining Brian Barlow, 1986

Police officers restraining Brian Barlow in front of fundamentalist protesters, 1986. Christine Kehoe Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

The rally that followed the parade at Juniper and Balboa was prepared to tackle AIDS discrimination before the event with Barlow had even occurred. At the time, Proposition 64, or the “LaRouche initiative,” was on the ballot, which would have bolstered discrimination on the basis of AIDS. Nicole Murray, Robin Tyler, and Susan Jester delivered heated speeches calling for action. However, they only reached a crowd of one thousand because many people were already at the festival. Over the two days, attendance for the festival was nearly six thousand, and the committee drew a profit. Grand Marshals that year were Bridget Wilson and Terry Cunningham.

Grand Marshals Bridget Wilson and Terry Cunningham, 1986

Grand Marshals Bridget Wilson and Terry Cunningham, 1986. Doug Moore Photograph Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.