Editorials

SLO’s History Center is under attack for supporting the LGBTQ community. What a witch hunt

jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

We’re going to cut straight to the chase: Stop picking on San Luis Obispo County’s History Center.

Allegations that the nonprofit organization is “politically and socially biased” and therefore should not be receiving taxpayer funding are ridiculous.

What’s behind that crazy conclusion, anyway?

Is it because the center was flying a gay pride flag?

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Hundreds on Sunday, July 9, 2017, attended the culmination of Pride Week - Pride in the Plaza - in San Luis Obispo and came "dressed to the rainbow nines" with bright colors, sequins, fancy dresses, leggings and sparkling shoes to show support the

If so, relax. The flag was displayed temporarily during the annual Pride in the Plaza celebration, which took place in front of the History Center museum on Monterey Street..

Was the center supposed to totally ignore the festivities literally on its front door?

Of course not. Flying the flag was a welcoming, supportive and totally appropriate gesture.

Yes, some moron decided to steal the flag. That’s a reason to commiserate with the History Center — not condemn it.

Yet our local prince of self-righteous indignation and self-appointed guardian of the taxpayer dollar, Kevin P. Rice, takes issue with flying a pride flag without any accompanying explanation.

“If they’d hung up a communist flag without any display right next to it to explain, how would that look? Why not hang a Russian flag?” he asked The Tribune.

Ummmm ... Kevin, it didn’t really need an explanation. Pride in the Plaza was the explanation.

Or do you want that event kicked out of Mission Plaza for operating on city-owned land?

The other piece of “evidence” of the History Center’s bias: It partnered with the Central Coast Queer Archive Project, a volunteer effort to document the history and experiences of local LGBTQ people.

We understand some members of our community believe homosexuality is morally wrong. That’s their right, but that does not make it OK for them to deny that the LGBTQ community exists and has a history here.

Again, it’s totally appropriate for a historical museum to be involved in documenting that history.

We’d add that it’s the center’s obligation. If it were to refuse to get involved in documenting the history of any significant population of our county, that would be cause for concern and for questioning whether the History Center deserves public funding.

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

The History Center’s mission is to record and archive the history of all the people of San Luis Obispo County, regardless of race, religion, gender, status, wealth, political affiliation, education, etc.

“We are recording people’s stories,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the History Center’s Board of Directors. “The stories are important. History matters.”

Exactly. History does matter, and conducting a witch hunt to discredit a respected organization dedicated to recording the stories of San Luis Obispo County residents is dangerously misguided.

We strongly urge residents of San Luis Obispo County to stand behind the History Center.

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