Description: Mel Merrill came to San Diego in 1960 out of graduate school and went to work for General Atomics designing nuclear reactors for utilities, research facilities and outer space. In 1979 he sought and (after a government hearing) received a Secret level security clearance as an openly gay man. He retired in 1986.Having coming out around 1970, he first encountered the LGBT community in the men’s rap groups at the Center’s original site on B St. He became a long term supporter and donor to the Center and is proud to have his name on two rooms in their facilities. In 1980 he joined with 6 other community members to form a real estate partnership to buy the building that became the Center’s second site on 30th St. Most of his political activism has been based in the San Diego Democratic Club, which he joined in 1977. He served on the Board for many years and was involved in the pioneering campaigns for City Council of openly gay candidates Al Best (1979) and Neil Good (1987). The Club then worked on getting district elections, and redrawing the boundaries of District 3 to provide a district our community could win with Chris Kehoe in 1993. He has also served on the Boards of USDEC (United San Diego Elections Committee) a bipartisan LGBT PAC, the SAGA ski club, and ran the phone hotline for the San Diego AIDS project. He continues to volunteer and donate to political campaigns, the Victory Fund and the Servicemen’s Legal Defense Network. He currently volunteers at the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation where he chairs the Grants Committee.

Date:  2008-05-16