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San Diego’s Gay Bar History

Airs Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, June 11 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2 + Stream on demand with the PBS Video App

Peacock Alley, early 1980s. This is where The Merrow is now, a bar and live m...

Credit: Courtesy of © Lambda Archives

Above: Peacock Alley, early 1980s. This is where The Merrow is now, a bar and live music venue in the San Diego uptown area.

This film is currently available to stream on demand.

Since WWII, no less than 135 gay bars have operated in San Diego, and provided sanctuary for GLBT people to discover themselves and form community.

These institutions have played an integral role in creating spaces for building friendships and fostering activism, as well as serving as spaces for both grieving and celebration.

“San Diego's Gay Bar History” examines the roles bars have played across three major time periods: after WWII until the birth of the modern gay rights movement in 1969; during the 1970s and until the onset of HIV in 1981; during the AIDS epidemic (1981-1995), and beyond.

San Diego's Gay Bar History: Trailer

"San Diego’s Gay Bar History" traces the development of the gay bar as a community institution in San Diego, from post-WWII to the present.

Through archival photographs, historic footage, and interviews with bar owners, bartenders and prominent community members, this documentary provides a glimpse into the rich history of San Diego's gay history and culture.

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"San Diego's Gay Bar History" is on Facebook.


A Northside Pictures film in association with KPBS and Lambda Archives of San Diego. Writer/Director is Paul Detwiler. Produced by Chris Cashman. Director of Photography is Kevin Todd. Edited by Fernando Garcia.


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