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June Mazer Archives’ lesbian history exhibit showcases politics, community

Lesbian History Beverly Hickok and Cece Davis

Beverly Hickok, left, was a librarian and author who came out as a lesbian in the 1940s. Hickok was in a relationship with Cecil Davis 41 years. They lived together in Berkeley. Photos: June Mazer Lesbian Archives.

The story of Pat Larson and Jennie Meyer is one for the lesbian history books.

They met in 1961 when Meyer was in the U. S. Air Force. She went AWOL to be with Larson, and then arrested and court-martialed for her actions.

Meyer eventually received an honorable discharge when she briefly wed a gay man, who was in the closet and wanted to marry in an effort to climb the corporate ladder.

Larson, 87, and Meyer, 82, have been together ever since, almost 60 years.

Lesbian History

The story of Pat Larson, right, and Jennie Meyer, left, is one for the lesbian history books. They have been together approximately 60 years. Their story is included in the lesbian history exhibit “Out of the Box: Rare and Unseen Photos.”

LESBIAN HISTORY EXHIBIT

Their story is told in “Out of the Box: Rare or Unseen Photos,” an exhibit of images from the West Hollywood-based June Mazer Lesbian Archives, the largest collection on the West Coast dedicated to preserving lesbian and feminist culture and history.

The images are on display at the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach through Monday. The Center is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s closed Sunday.

“Out of the Box” features photographs and memorabilia — spanning almost 100 years — from more than 20 collections at the Mazer, which celebrated the grand re-opening of its space in West Hollywood at the Werle Building.

POWERFUL, INTIMATE IMAGES

The purpose of the exhibit is to show some of the most powerful and intimate images in the archives.

“The women pictured represent a diverse array of figures, and each photo celebrates aspects of their personal stories and identities and calls attention to the beauty and influence of their ordinary lives,” according to a statement from the archives.

While some photographs reveal pain, solitude and political pushback, “the exhibit emphasizes the perseverance and strength of self-love and community that allow lesbians to live, thrive and continue making memories and legacies.”

JUNE MAZER ARCHIVES

The non-profit archives was founded in 1981 in Oakland. It moved to Southern California in 1985, and into the Werle Building – a 1940 Streamline Moderne structure owned by the City of West Hollywood – in 1989.

The organization has been run by volunteers for most of its 37 years, and has operated thanks to private donors and the City of West Hollywood.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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