Laguna Beach, CA

The South Seas Bar & The Lavender Scare: Two Reasons to Attend A Pride Festival & Show Support to Your LGBTQ+ Community

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Prohibition Ends, Paving the Way for The Boom Boom Room's Inception

The Boom Boom Room, formerly known as the South Seas bar, was the first Laguna Beach establishment to be granted a legal liquor license following the end of Prohibition. Prohibition spanned from 1920 to 1933 and was the period during which the US Constitution's 18th amendment prohibited the making, transporting or selling of alcohol. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) ran his election campaign on the notion that he sought to repeal Prohibition if elected. Following the Great Depression, legalizing the liquor industry meant creating both jobs and revenue. As a result of this lucrative possibility, FDR easily defeated then-president Herbert Hoover and swiftly ended Prohibition. [i]

Aside from its bursting onto the scene with the first legal liquor license, what makes The Boom Boom Room unique lies within the debate over when it became a bar for homosexual men to meet and interact. Many longtime residents, Laguna Beach's former Mayor Bob Gentry (the first openly gay mayor in the 1980s), and several others have confirmed that at least as far back as 1956, the bar was a known hangout for gay men. [ii]

Straight by day, homosexual by night, those who recall The Boom Boom Room's true nightly identity explain that the bar operated secretly because of the negative stigma attached to homosexuality during that era. The same president, FDR, who repealed Prohibition, is also widely known for his 1943 Executive Order 9300 that mandated 'subversive behavior' AKA homosexuality, as justifiable grounds to dismiss an individual from Federal employment and armed services. In hindsight, FDR's repeal of Prohibition technically and ironically made the popular Boom Boom Room bar a possibility. [ii]

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The Untold History of The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare occurred as a result of FDR's order against homosexuals. Rooting out "immoral" or "scandalous" government employees was the focus of the State Department in the 1950s. LGBT individuals were, at the time, targeted because of their sexual orientation. Due to homosexuality being a crime at the time, homosexuals had hidden their sexualities for quite some time. This need to keep their true sexual orientation hidden resulted in a flourishing of underground bars and clubs catering to homosexuals, such as The Boom Boom Room. [iii]

The State Department actively sought out homosexual employees looking for what they believed to be 'signs of homosexuality' during the Lavender Scare. These activities included everything from mannerisms and how an individual dressed down to simply being unmarried. Thought to have been promoted by Communists to assist in a communist takeover, homosexuality was publicly denounced, and homosexuals faced widespread humiliation because of such an unexpected loss of not only income but of their reputations. Some even went so far as to commit suicide. The History channel shared the informative video below that further details the widely unknown history of The Lavender Scare. [iv]

There has been much progression for LGBTQ rights since the Lavender Scare. One such action is President Biden's most recent Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals. On Wednesday, June 15th, 2022, President Biden signed an executive order that 'directs key federal agencies to protect our communities from those hateful attacks and advance equality for families . . . [and] to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy." As seen in the video below, Biden encourages the youth to "Just be you," encouraging words for those belonging to the LGBTQ community. [v]

President Biden paves the way by creating a positive outlook, especially for those faced with conversion therapy, a practice that uses emotional or physical therapy to "cure" or "fix" an individual's attraction to a member of the same sex and gender identity. Conversion therapy emerged late in the 19th century when psychiatrists and doctors sought ways to reverse same-sex desires. Treatments endured included electroconvulsive therapy, lobotomies, and shocks administered through electrodes implanted into the individual's brain, sometimes combined with the hiring of prostitutes and purchasing of heterosexual pornography to fix homosexual individuals' sexual orientation. [vi]

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Despite the growth in individual mindset, continued support of the LGBTQ community is necessary when facing incidents such as two that occurred on Saturday, June 11, 2022. In Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, 31 men, alleged members of "Patriot Front," were arrested after allegedly traveling in a U-Haul to protest a local Pride month celebration. Similarly, on the same date, in San Lorenzo, California, several men believed to be members of the far-right group "Proud Boys" entered a public Library during "Drag time story hour," shouting both transphobic and homophobic threats and slurs. [vii]

PBS News reported in the following video that potential reasoning for the increase in targeting the LGBTQ community might be tied to individuals viewing gender as a secondary identity marker. This is thought to be combined with the surfacing of 'far-right media outlets' encouraging negative language against the LGBTQ community, as detailed by the PBS NewsHour video. During the video, a PBS NewsHour anchor spoke with researchers and advocates to dive deeper into the root cause of the progressing issue. [vii]

As members of the LGBTQ community continue to face and overcome hurdles to attaining equitable treatment across the US, it is crucial to remain vigilant as allies in supporting family, friends, and even strangers who identify as belonging to the LGBTQ community. For example, data combined from a Gallup poll shows how views on the legality of same-sex rights to marry have shifted. However, despite the shift in opinions recognizable up to 2022, 28% of the Nation still believes same-sex couples should not be entitled to the same rights as those in a traditional marriage. [vii]

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Charnell Gilchrist

Throughout the Nation, though, cities continue to celebrate Pride month with festivals, a Pride parade, theater shows, afterparties at local bars, and much more. The festivities help to bring together a unique blend of personalities, with generally something for everyone. In addition, most communities have scheduled Pride events, with calendars of upcoming events on their websites.

For example, the non-profit organization Orange County (OC) LGBT Pride has a calendar of events conveniently located on its organizational Facebook page. In addition, allies with friends, families, and acquaintances who are a part of the LGBTQ community can support them in several ways. One of the simplest is by participating in local Pride events, each of which provides the opportunity to meet and support LGBTQ community members and business owners.

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For those who want to demonstrate their support and stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community, the following are a few events across the Nation happening this month.

  • For those unable to travel to a physical location to celebrate Pride, Google has come to the rescue by documenting global Pride parades using 360-degree cameras with the hashtag #prideforeveryone. The goal of Google's launch using virtual reality and Google Cardboard is to "bring Pride to those who cannot march."
  • On June 25, 2022, OC Pride will present 'Love Out Loud!', a free festival sponsored by SDCCU. The event is located in Downtown Santa Ana at 253E E 3rd St, Santa Ana, CA 92701. The parade will occur from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, and the festival area is open from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. Live music will begin at 7 pm. Snips below from the organization's website promote two of the live entertainment personalities that guests can expect to see, sure to help make the event even more joyous.
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OC Pride
  • The Los Angeles Angels also demonstrate their support this Pride Month during their Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Angels vs. Whitesox game at the Angels Stadium, 2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806. Pre-game festivities will be held in the Gate 5 Courtyard, with proceeds from tickets purchased benefiting Orange County LGBT Pride. Angels Pride merchandise is also available via the MLB website, where the flyer from their website lists a game start time of 6:38 pm local time, with several ticket options.
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MLB
  • On Saturday, June 25th, 2022, Pride San Antonio, another non-profit, will present 'Pride Bigger Than Texas Festival' from 11 am to 7 pm local time, in Crockett Park. Although online tickets can no longer be purchased, tickets may still be purchased at the gate for $10. Festivities include live entertainment, food, a health fair, and a PRIDE wedding. In addition, their website boasts a colorful banner depicting the wide variety of individuals participating in pride festivals and events.
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Pride San Antonio
  • Even across the country, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Pride is being celebrated. The Raleigh PrideFest spans several days, with the "OUT! Raleigh Pride" festival being held on June 25th, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm local time, on Fayetteville Street. Live entertainment, local vendors, a dedicated KidsZone, a beer garden, and food will be available. Admission to the event is free.
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Raleigh PrideFest
  • Also on the east coast, in south Georgia, Pride festivities continue at Gateway Center Arena. 'Atlanta Pride' is hosting "Atlanta Dream Pride Night" on June 26, 2022, at 3:00 pm local time. The event is a Pride Month weekend celebration. Games will be played against New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun.
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Atlanta Pride Committee
  • The day after, Atlanta Pride Committee will host its annual LGBTQ Family Fun Day. The event will be held on June 26, 2022, at 4:00 pm at The Town Green, 64 North Avondale Rd, Avondale Estates, GA 30002. Kids of all ages are invited to attend, bringing a blanket and a cooler to enjoy the new Town Green at Avondale Estates. Admission to the event is free.
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Atlanta Pride Committee

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Charnell Gilchrist

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References

[i] History.com Editors, Prohibition, (Jan. 27, 2020)

[ii] Cindy Frazier, Finding history on a bar stool, (Oct. 5, 2015)

[iii] Erin Blakemore, How LGBT Civil Servants Became Public Enemy No. 1 in the 1950s, (Oct. 10, 2019)

[iv] Id.

[v] The White House, Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals, (Jun. 15, 2022)

[vi] Erin Blakemore, Gay Conversion Therapy's Disturbing 19th-Century Origins, (Jun. 29, 2019)

[vii] KRON 4, Proud Boys disrupt Drag Queen event at San Lorenzo library, (Jun 12, 2022)

[viii] PBS NewsHour, Why far-right groups are increasingly targeting the LGBTQ community, (Jun 14, 2022)

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Currently pursuing a Juris Doctor at Western State College of Law, freelance writer Charnell Gilchrist, a North Carolina native, now spends her free time writing in sunny Aliso Viejo, CA.

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