The Spectrum Archives: Narratives of Courage Documentary Wins a Statewide Award

The Spectrum Archives Team

The Spectrum Archives documents Sacramento-area LGBTQ+ activists from before and after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. It is produced by Sierra College staff and students.

Johnnie Terry, LGBT studies faculty member, recently won the statewide LGBT David A. Sanchez Award for his work on the project.

This award is from the Community College Association Faculty Equity and Diversity Committee. It is named after the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) first openly gay CTA President.

Johnnie Terry was proud to win the award:

Winning this award was a tremendous honor. Especially since the award was for interviewing the LGBT activists who made it possible for me to teach as an openly gay faculty member.

Watch The Spectrum Archives on YouTube

Preserving Sacramento’s LGBTQ+ History on Video

So far, Spectrum has interviewed these LGBTQ+ activists:

  1. Joanna Michaels is a transgender rights activist. She speaks about her personal experiences as being transgender and demisexual.
  2. Tina Reynolds is an LGBT activist and community organizer. She talks about how the divide between the gay and lesbian communities was healed.
  3. Gary Miller is a gay politician. He speaks about when he was in college and discovered other people like himself in the LGBT community.
  4. Rosanna Herber is an LGBT activist. She talks about how she helped Sacramento’s LGBT community come together to gain political power.
  5. Linda Birner is the founder of Mom...Guess What! Newsmagazine. She was the first publisher of a gay and lesbian newspaper.
  6. Jerry Sloan is an LGBT activist. He stood up to a homophobic talk show host and helped open the Sacramento gay community center.
  7. George Raya is an LGBT and Latino rights activist. He discusses how the gay community of Sacramento came together to overcome unfair legislation.
  8. Denny Mangers is a former California senator. He talks about his marriage ceremony in San Francisco when gay marriage was just becoming legal.
  9. Johnnie Terry is a Sierra College LGBT Studies Faculty and the Executive Producer. He talks about this film and the importance of the LGBTQ+ community.

Interviews Coming Soon

  • Clarmundo Sullivan is a gay man of color. He talks about founding Golden Rule Services, a non-profit that provides HIV resources to gay men of color.
  • Diana Lane is a 74-year-old transwoman of color. She discusses graduating from Juilliard as a woman and becoming a professional jazz singer in the Sacramento area.

Video Makers

  • Angie Coughlin: Director, Editor
  • Johnnie Terry: Executive Producer
  • Denny Mangers: Executive Producer

Student Interns

  • Gabe Gonzales: Assistant Director, Camera Operator, Music
  • Kate McCarthy: Producer, Camera Operator, Editor
  • Skyler Kanes: Producer, Editor
  • Jacob Cameron: Producer
  • Other Camera Operators: Kevin Carpio, Doug Peterson

Role of Student Interns in the Documentary

Student intern Gabe Gonzales presenting about the archives
Gabe Gonzales presents from the intern's perspective. He's been working on this project as a student intern for the last two years. He wrote and produced the music for the documentary and was a camera operator. He also scanned tons of archival documents and contributed to the editing. The Archive has some awesome dedicated interns on this project. We wouldn't be able to do it without their dedication.

The Spectrum Archives interns took Angie Coughlin’s video classes and/or Johnnie Terry’s LGBT Narratives course. The interns were fascinated by the interviews. They thoroughly enjoyed asking questions of LGBT rights movement leaders.

Johnnie Terry remembers when intern Gabe Gonzales raised his head over the camera during a photo shoot. He said to Johnnie, Dude, this is LEGIT!

Through the project, interns gain experience working with the following:

  • Operating cameras
  • Lights
  • Audio equipment

Interns also ask the culminating questions of each interview.

The Making of the Documentary

In the beginning in 2009, Sierra’s new Spectrum Committee focused on the success and retention of LGBT students. The staff planned to do a small-scale oral history project.

Those plans changed when Sierra’s Foundation Director Sonbol Alibiadi introduced Johnnie Terry to former state legislator Dennis Mangers. The moment changed my life, stated Terry.

Mangers envisioned an oral history project on a grand scale, and he invited Terry to submit a proposal. Terry turned to Videography Professor Angie Coughlin for help.

Johnnie Terry spoke about Angie Couglin's involvement:

It was Angie who captivated Denny’s attention when we pitched the proposal. And, it was Angie's skills and expertise that made the project possible.

Terry, Coughlin and Vice-President of Instruction Debra Sutphen came together. They presented the cost of the first five interviews to Denny Mangers.

Denny’s response was immediate, said Johnnie. Mangers confidently stated, If we move forward, we are committed to this project. The rest is history.

How the Archives are Created

There are two sides to the project. First, the Spectrum team records interviews with the activists. Next, Angie Coughlin and the interns create 15–20 minute biographical shorts to submit to film festivals.

At this point, the archive has 11 interviews, and the shorts are in-process.

A Permanent Home for the Archives

The latest breakthrough happened in July, 2017. The California State library will house the full-length archives on its “Great Californians” website.

The first batch of files will be transferred to the state site during the Fall 2017 Semester. Links and more information coming soon.

Volunteer for the Archives

Students and community members are welcome to participate in the project.

Volunteer Contacts


Contact Johnnie Terry or Angie Coughlin, and sign up for videography and/or LGBT studies classes.

Submit Your Story

The Spectrum Committee will be creating a way to submit stories to be considered for the archive. Follow the archives on Facebook for the latest information!

About Spectrum at Sierra College

Spectrum is an academic committee that supports LGBTQ+ students and staff. Its mission is to improve the success and retention of Sierra College’s LGBTQ+ students.

It ensures a safe campus climate. Johnnie Terry created Spectrum, and now he chairs the group.

Overcoming Isolation for LGBT Students

In The Spectrum Archives, Terry says, One of the things the Spectrum Committee noticed was that the obstacle unique to LGBT students is isolation.

Terry recalls how he helped to create a Pride Center at Sierra. Now LGBT students have a place to socialize and find support.

He recalls with tears in his eyes how an incoming freshman in 2001 committed suicide because he felt isolated as an LGBT student. This person did not learn about the Pride Center or Spectrum and was not connected with services.

Now, Spectrum reaches out to high schools so that when students come to Sierra, they can find the support they need right away.

Sierra College Leads the Way for LGBT Students

Sierra College is one of only three community colleges in the state that has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies Department. It is one of two community colleges to have an LGBT Studies degree.

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