One of the best parts of this job is meeting all kinds of people in Orange County and discovering what they’re passionate about. Cal State Fullerton assistant professor Eric Gonzaba is relatively new to O.C. (2019) and is leading a project called Mapping the Gay Guides, which digitizes the information listed in Bob Damron’s Address Books about gay spaces nationwide going back to 1965.
Q: What’s the goal of this project?
A: As a digital historian, you can’t learn without digitizing. When you put all this information in one place, you can look at major trends. We can introduce new questions, rather than answering questions we already had.
What’s your favorite aspect of the project?
I want the students’ feedback. I made students do a unit about gay history; 99 percent of them had no idea they were living near queer spots. The students are surprised that gay history is all around (them). It’s beaches, restaurants, bowling leagues. I love the element of surprise in academia. We should go to work and find out something we didn’t know before. I get pleasure (in) teaching them that queer history has never been stuck in the closet.
Are there listings for O.C.?
We haven’t gotten to Orange County specifically, but California has more entries than any other state in the country by far. Thousands of entries; it takes the same amount of time to do (data entry for) 15 years in California alone as it would to do all the years for 12 confederate states.
Is there information that applies to modern life?
What is the role of gay spaces? That question is happening nationwide. Neighborhoods are changing. This is a fun part of the project. What makes certain neighborhoods a gay neighborhood? These are questions we’re hoping to answer.
Where’s your favorite place to hang out here?
We love our tacos at Pour Vida in Anaheim. And we’re big movie fanatics so we love the community at The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana.
We’re celebrating Pride throughout this issue, and we talked to plenty of fascinating leaders in our LGBTQ community (Page 90).
My Favorite Things in This Issue
Our county has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to summer fun. Check out our top 10!
Don’t miss your chance to see “Come From Away” later this month at Segerstrom Center for the Arts; it’s delightful.
I can’t wait to figure out what fringe item I can incorporate into my wardrobe this summer.
The delicious, sweet corn agnolotti at Henry’s Coastal Cuisine matches the gorgeous setting.