Description: Part of Lambda Archives’ celebratory event “Heroines, Pioneers and Trailblazers” held March 19, 2016 in San Diego, CA. Susan Jester is a 3rd generation Californian who grew up in Palm Springs and moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University in the early 60’s. Raised in a strict evangelical home, Susan struggled with her sexuality until finally coming out at age 40 in 1983. When the AIDS epidemic struck the gay community in the early 80’s, she used her organizing skills and political experience to raise public awareness, calm the public fears and raise critically needed money. Susan mobilized the LGBT community and numerous straight allies to produce the first AIDS Walk in San Diego in 1986. At the time there was no government funding, medical care or disability status for people with HIV/AIDS and the death rate was frighteningly high. Because of the fear and stigma around HIV and it’s unknown transmission sources, this first walk intentionally avoided using the word “AIDS” in the title and instead was named San Diego Walks For Life. In addition to being a fighter for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, Susan has worked for the Human Rights Commission, was the Executive Director of the 25th Anniversary of Stonewall March on the UN in 1994 and served New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. She serves on the Board of Pride, The Log Cabin Republican Club, the Sheriff’s LGBT Advisory Council, AIDS Memorial Task Force and was appointed by Mayor Faulconer to the San Diego City Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission.

Date: 2016-01-25