San Antonio Lesbian Gay Assembly Records 1990-1998: a glimpse into LGBTQ community dynamics now available digitally
UTSA Libraries Special Collections has defined LGBTQ materials as one of its top collecting priorities. In efforts to make records of this historically underrepresented community more accessible, Special Collections staff have worked diligently to identify collection materials for digitization that would be of particular interest to scholars, researchers, and community members. The San Antonio Lesbian and Gay Assembly (SALGA) Records, 1990-1998 represent one such collection. Collection items have been digitized and can now be accessed online.
In 1992, SALGA was organized to bring together lesbian and gay organizations, businesses, and individuals to network for mutual support, share and disperse information, educate and serve the community as a whole and to promote the social welfare of, eliminate discrimination and prejudice against and defend the human and civil rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Dulce Benavides and Brad Veloz were co-chairs and leaders of SALGA throughout the organization’s life. In addition to sponsoring the Gay/Lesbian Conference from 1992-1994, SALGA was the sponsor of the San Antonio Annual Lesbian/Gay Pride Picnic from 1990 until 1997.
In 1997, divisions within the LGBTQ community surfaced as two separate factions squared off over the who should control San Antonio’s annual Pride festivities. Some within the community accused SALGA of mishandling of funds raised at previous years’ Pride celebrations. The divisiveness and accusations culminated with the creation of a second Pride Picnic organized by the Unity Foundation on the same weekend as the picnic sponsored by SALGA. The statement at the bottom of the UNITY Foundation Pride Picnic flier, “All proceeds from the 1997 Pride Picnic will be publicly disclosed and accounted,” was a direct jab at SALGA’s handling of picnic proceeds from years past and fanned the flames of contention between the two agencies.
SALGA chose not to attack UNITY directly in picnic fliers, but did claim their Pride celebration as “San Antonio’s #1 Gay/Lesbian Tradition.” No mention was made of where funds raised would go nor that an accounting and disclosure would be made after the event was over. However, in the wake of the dueling Pride Picnics, SALGA co-chairs Dulce Benavides and Brad Veloz released a statement summarizing their view of events leading up to the schism. Correspondence in the later part of 1997 reveals that wounds opened during the split only intensified as the year marched on.
In 1998, SALGA dissolved; the eight year life of the organization, once so vital to San Antonio’s LGBTQ community came to an end. The San Antonio Lesbian Gay Assembly records provide an interesting glimpse into efforts to galvanize the city’s queer community and conversely, events that worked to tear the community apart. The collection offers scholars and others the opportunity to investigate community dynamics as LGBTQ individuals and organizations worked to define their place within the evolving milieu of San Antonio’s queer culture.