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Meldon Merrill

Video: 

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

Jim Ziegler Interview

Video: 

Description: Recorded as part of the Lambda Archives of San Diego’s 20th anniversary.

Additional Description: James Ziegler is putting out fires again. As he was in 2003, Ziegler is once more heavily involved in the recovery and rebuilding efforts necessitated by the October wildfires through his service with The San Diego Regional Disaster Task Force Board of Directors. Ziegler is also a small business owner, serves on The Board of Governors at the San Diego Foundation and on the Boards of AIDS Foundation San Diego, and The San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative. Previous community affiliations include service on the boards of The San Diego LGBT Center, Diversionary Theatre, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Mission Beach Precise Planning Board and the El Cajon Boulevard Businessmen’s Association.

Date: 2007-11-12

Homospirital Lecture Series

Video: 

Description: At an early age Bell founded the first Gay Liberation group in San Francisco in 1970 at the age of 20. Later, he went on to found gay student unions at San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University. During this period in his life, he also worked on Harvey Milk’s successful bid to become the city’s first openly gay supervisor. After his time as a student activist, Bell moved to San Diego. There, as one of the early directors of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, he was instrumental to keeping it in the public eye and at the forefront of the political scene. He served on its board for seven years, working at the same time on some of the earliest Gay Pride events in the city. In 1980 he attended the first spiritual gathering of Radical Faeries in Boulder, Colorado. Eventually he became a leading figure of the tribe and a colleague of Harry Hay, one of the founding fathers of gay liberation in the United States. Albert developed a popular course titled “Homospiritual: A Gay Journey to Self Esteem.” This course ran for several years and was presented before hundreds of San Diego men.

Date: 1991-09-13

Vertez Burks Interview

Video: 

Description: Recorded as part of the Lambda Archives of San Diego’s 20th anniversary.

Additional Description: Vertez Burks was another newcomer to San Diego in 1985, when she arrived to spend a summer vacation. Now 20 years later, Burks says she still feels like it is summer vacation, but she also feels she’s made a home for herself here. “I walked into The Center (Gay and Lesbian Center of San Diego) behind the Brass Rail (oldest gay bar in San Diego) and my life has never been the same. I was welcomed with open arms.” Burks decided to give back to the community that liberated her from “the darkness and loneliness of the closet.” Since then she has been involved with The Names Project, Lesbian Community Cultural Arts, Lesbians and Gays of African Descent United, Pride, Life Lobby… the list goes on. “I have tried some of the things that were on my list. I have not finished, nor have I done half of what is there, but I consider myself blessed and honored that someone noticed the little that I have done.”

Date: 2007-12-02

Robert Gleason Interview

Video: 

Description: Recorded as part of the Lambda Archives of San Diego’s 20th anniversary.

Additional Description: Robert H. Gleason is a long-time San Diegan and is heavily involved in community and philanthropic activities. A commissioner for the City of San Diegoís Commission for Arts and Culture and a member of the San Diego County Advisory Board of U.S. Bank, he also holds positions as the past chair of the board of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and as chair of the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council, an organization comprised of more than 40 organizations in the GLBT and allied communities. Gleason lives in Kensington with his partner of 15 years and their two children.

Date: 2007-11-30