Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Vincent J. Cannato

Second Advisor

Timothy Hacsi

Third Advisor

Roberta L. Wollons


Controversial from the beginning, the Alpine County project (1969-1971), a genuine, albeit unsuccessful, effort put forth by gay radicals to establish a self-governing separatist community in rural California, is a grossly misunderstood event in United States history. Contemporary historical interpretations hold that the project was primarily either a well-conspired hoax devised by Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front (LA-GLF) to attract mainstream media coverage of Gay Liberation, or a misguided effort toward systemic reform. However, evidence indicates that, for gay separatists who supported it, the project was an effort to achieve collective self-determination by creating a geographic haven for a budding gay counterculture.

Differing from other historical scholarship that has treated the Alpine project within broader conceptual or regional contexts, this study examined the project from the perspective of the gay separatists who initiated or influenced the endeavor. The overall historical problem to resolve was whether the project was a hoax, tactic to achieve systemic reform, or part of a genuine effort toward gay separatism. Methodology consisted primarily of archival research and an extensive literature review. Research revealed that the Alpine project was a manifestation of gay cultural nationalism and movement toward greater self-determination.

This thesis contributes toward a more complete understanding of the history of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people and their experiences by offering explanations of how the Alpine project came to be marginalized in the contemporary LGBT historical narrative. This thesis also provides a greater understanding of gay separatism, which to date has not attracted a significant amount of scholarship.