A local nonprofit organization will celebrate Fresno’s LGBTQ+ history this fall with a series of free, public talks. Topics include the history of the Tower District, the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade, the Imperial Dove Court and the importance of LGBTQ+ social spaces. 

“We are excited by the opportunity to bring Fresno’s LGBTQ+ history to our community and the wider Central Valley,” said Dr. Katherine Fobear, co-chair of Qistory, a project of Community Link, the group spearheading the effort “to get people interested and excited about local queer history.” 

The series of seven talks begins with “From Stonewall to Fresno: The History of the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade,” at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center (1252 Fulton St.). 

The series, which runs through Nov. 12, will be digitally recorded and housed online. Fobear said the website will be “full of archived oral histories and materials to preserve our history for future generations.”

The fall community outreach is one portion of a larger, grant-funded project, Fobear said. Qistory will also create a digital map of Fresno through which visitors can engage with local spots of queer history and explore an extensive archive of uploaded photographs, writings and news articles. 

“The map will continue to grow as Qistory gathers more materials,” Fobear said.

The complete project, entitled “Mapping Queer Fresno: Community History Talks and Digital Mapping of Fresno County,” was awarded a $5,000 “Humanities for All Quick Grant” from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment of the Humanities. The organization’s mission is to “promote ideas, conversation and learning in meaningful ways to help strengthen California.” 

Julie Fry, president and CEO of California Humanities, said grantees like Qistory “bring the complexity and diversity of California to light in new ways that will engage Californians from every part of the state and help us all understand each other better.”

The quick grant program supports locally initiated, public humanities projects that respond to the needs and interests of Californians, encourage greater public participation in humanities programming – particularly by new and underrepresented audiences – and promotes understanding and empathy amongst the state’s residents. Quick grants are awarded three times annually (February, June and October) to smaller-scale projects that take place within one year of the award date.

More information can be found on the Qistory Facebook and Instagram (@qistoryfresno) pages. Each of the following talks will take place at the Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center (1252 Fulton St.).

  • Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m.: “Finding Community: The Importance of LGBTQ2+ Social Spaces in Fresno.”
  • Oct. 1, 2 p.m.: “Empresses and Emperors of the Valley: The Imperial Dove Court de Fresno and Madera and Sequoia Empire of Visalia and Tulare Counties.”
  • Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m.: “Fighting for Our Survival: Recognizing Fresno’s HIV/AIDS Activism from 1981 to Now.”
  • Oct. 15, 2 p.m.: “Intersectional Pride and Queer Futures,” public panel with Hmong, Black and Latinx/e LGBTQ2+ community activists. 
  • Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.: “Loving Our Community: Trans, Non-binary and Two-spirit Community Building in the Central Valley.”
  • Nov. 12, 2 p.m.: “Pride on Our Campuses: The Birth of LGBTQ2+ Activism at Fresno State, Fresno City College and Public Schools.”