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Susan Jester Interview


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

Ruth Hendricks Interview


Description: Part of Lambda Archives’ celebratory event “Heroines, Pioneers and Trailblazers” held March 19, 2016 in San Diego, CA. Ruth Hendricks left Chicago in 1978 to “try to make a go of It” in San Diego. At first she worked for tips only at the Huddle, a popular neighborhood restaurant, eventually becoming it’s owner in 1986.Realizing the crucial role good nutrition plays in the lives of persons living with HIV/AIDS , Ruth founded Special Delivery San Diego out of the kitchen of the Huddle in June, 1991. Ruth witnessed the deteriorating health of her patrons. When regular customers stopped coming for a meal Ruth would make a special delivery. Special Delivery is a 100% volunteer grassroots non-profit California Corporation preparing, packaging and delivering nutritious meals to men, women, children and families living with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses. Currently 150 volunteers not only provide delivery service but also provide a food pantry feeding 450 families monthly as well as a diabetes educational program  and a strong support system for these populations. Ruth has given over 25 years of dedicated service to the San Diego community and has been honored by President Clinton with the Points of Light award as well as numerous local civic and community awards.

Date: 2016-03-14

Norman Braxton Interview


Description: Norman found his way to San Diego while serving in the United States Navy in the late 1960’s. After leaving the Navy he used his love for Diana Ross to find a job at the Showbiz Supper Club, becoming the first African American to perform in San Diego as a professional female impersonator. Norman recollects his career in the San Diego supper club scene, the early hisory of the Imperial Court and his role within it, the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and his experiences as a gay black male in the San Diego LGBT community for the past 45 years.

Date: 2016-01-28

Larue Fields Interview


Description: Larue Fields has been a tireless worker and advocate for low income people of color and LGBT seniors. She began her professional career at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD where she taught Health and Physical Education in addition to coaching women’s basketball. Later she would become the first African American female head coach at the University of Minnesota leading the Women’s Basketball team. Currently she serves as Coordinator of Senior Services at the San Diego LGBT Community Center providing vital resources and referrals regarding health care, social services and community activities. Previously Larue had served as Director of Community Education and a Social Service Coordinator at Senior Community Services (now referred to as Serving Seniors) and was program Director at the Salvation Army Family Development Center. She was a Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Honoree in 2015.

Date: 2016-01-27