Telling Untold Stories About Queer California

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When the famous rainbow gay pride flag was first pieced together by a man named Gilbert Baker in 1978, he used eight colors. Each one represented a certain idea.

There was red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. That first version also had two other colors that would be left out of later flags: pink, which represented sex, and turquoise, art.

Christina Linden said she kept those last two at the front of her mind as she put together, “Queer California: Untold Stories,” an exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California that opened earlier this month.

“I think that we used that as a moment to frame the whole show around the question of what gets left out, and why and things get left out,” she told me recently.

Sometimes the reasons that stories get left out of mainstream historical narratives are banal, Ms. Linden said. Such was the case with Mr. Baker’s later flags: He wanted to make them more broadly available, and a flag maker didn’t have the right colors.

Other times, there are social, political and economic forces at work. She mentioned the AIDS crisis as one example: While it took immense effort to bring any attention to the issue, many of the stories that are more widely known center on white cisgender men. That’s in part, she said, because there’s just more material — writings, photos — that helps to understand their experiences.

“There are questions of privilege that have allowed people to have the space and wavelength to collect things and save things,” Ms. Linden said.

[See powerful images of the AIDS crisis from The Times in this Past Tense feature.]

The exhibition isn’t comprehensive, Ms. Linden said. Still, she said she hoped to include a wide range of kinds of pieces, from images of drag performers in the 1950s, to a map of historically lesbian places in California, to art about the experience of living in a transgender body, like a large bronze and concrete sculpture by Cassils.

Ms. Linden said the exhibition goes back even further with material from the 17th century that shows there was a third gender in indigenous culture before European settlers came to California.

“I think very few people know about that longer history,” she said.

And if you need a break from information that can be pretty heavy, Ms. Linden said, there’s a “Gayme room.”

The show is open until Aug. 11. Here’s more information about how to go to the Oakland Museum of California.

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• While cities around the country grapple with lingering, corrosive segregation in public schools, San Francisco was supposed to be a model with its “lottery” system, which theoretically allowed children to attend schools outside their neighborhoods. But now it’s become a cautionary tale. [The New York Times]

Bills aimed at protecting tenants from big rent increases saw mixed success on Thursday. One, A.B. 1482, which would impose a statewide cap on rent increases, cleared a hurdle, prompting praise from the governor. Another, A.B. 36, that would have expanded the rights of cities to expand rent control, appears to be dead. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

• Almost 7,000 people are homeless in Orange County, according to recently released data. Some cities are embracing the opportunity to figure out what to do next, while others are wary of the numbers. [The Orange County Register]

• More than 200 students and employees of U.C.L.A. and Cal State Los Angeles are being asked to stay home days after county officials declared a measles outbreak. The national numbers have broken records. [The New York Times]

• “Just about every measure of growth shows that the Golden State is peerless among developed economies,” a columnist writes. [Bloomberg]

“‘I’m from Paradise,’ has come to mean, ‘I’ve lost everything.’” A Cal State Chico professor grapples with a changed community and implores us not to forget about the state’s deadliest wildfire. [The New York Times Opinion]

• Two peregrine falcon chicks just hatched at the top of U.C. Berkeley’s Campanile. Watch a livecam here. [Berkeleyside]

• Meet the man who plays “Game of Thrones” tunes on the organ at Padres games. He takes requests. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

It’s Friday. And if you’ve had a long week, I can’t imagine a better form of self care than pie. The Times’s California restaurant critic, Tejal Rao, knows a recipe for that:

All restaurant critics have their bait — something on the menu they can never, ever resist ordering. For me it’s a super tart, tangy, well-made dessert.

This is why I can’t stop thinking about Melissa Clark’s new recipe for a beautiful tamarind cream pie. Built like a classic key lime pie, with a crumbly, buttery, graham cracker crust and softly whipped cream on top, this genius pie subs fruity tamarind paste in for citrus juice and finds body from sweetened condensed milk.

I headed to my local grocery store this week to try and find the exact kind of pulpy tamarind paste that Melissa recommends (which, of course, is very easy in Los Angeles). Now I’m headed into the weekend in the best way possible: with a chilled cream pie in the fridge, ready to go.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.




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