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  • Royal Halloween Ball flyer
  • Picket line at SDPD, 1971
  • Jess Jessop answering phones at The Center, 1970s

1971: A Hotline, a Protest, and “Gay-In 2”

In spring of 1971, Gay Liberation Front (GLF) came back to campus. On-campus status still officially revoked, the group began to operate meetings through a course called “The Homosexual and Society,” which was sponsored by the Experimental College. This loophole allowed GLF to use campus facilities and advertise to students, and Morris Kight, pioneer of the American gay rights movement, is counted among the guest speakers they brought to campus that year. Another important milestone for the group was its absorption of a community hotline started in 1969 by Gays United for Liberty and Freedom (GULF). Stephen Bell, an early member of the GLF, was involved with the GULF hotline and facilitated the transition, as the hotline had not been heavily utilized and had limited resources. The Gay Information Center (GIC) became an important resource for the community for the next few years. Activists from the era report that the hotline was mainly monitored by Jess Jessop and other GLF volunteers.

Jess Jessop answering phones at The Center, 1970s

Jess Jessop answering phones at The Center, 1970s. Jess Jessop Collection, Lambda Archives of San Diego.

Social programming continued strong in 1971. In October, Tres Femmes, MCC, and GLF hosted their first Royal Halloween Ball, held at the Royal Inn at the Wharf downtown. The Prodigal called it “the social event of the year,” featuring a costume contest and attended by around 350 people. In December, the GLF hosted the second annual Gay-In in Balboa Park. According to Nicole Murray-Ramirez, the philanthropic group Imperial Court de San Diego began organizing in 1971, although they did not hold their first coronation until 1973.

Royal Halloween Ball flyer

Flyer for the Royal Halloween Ball. Lambda Archives of San Diego.

The GLF also organized a protest at the San Diego Police Department on November 28th that year, in response to police treatment of the gay community. A small group demonstrated in front of the building on Broadway, holding signs and reciting chants. Channel 8 News covered the story, interviewing Stephen Bell.

Picket line at SDPD, 1971

Picket line at SDPD, 1971. Lambda Archives of San Diego