Richard Pastega papers , 1960-2014

Overview of the Collection

Richard Pastega papers
1960-2014 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet, (5 containers)  :  5 manuscript boxes
Collection Number
Coll 673
Diaries and personal papers of Richard Pastega, gay activist from the rural Oregon community of Klamath Falls.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

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Historical NoteReturn to Top

Richard L. Pastega grew up in Klamath Falls and spent most of his life there.

He was a high school history teacher for much of his career, first in Klamath Falls, and later in Juneau, Alaska. He followed that with a teaching assignment in Thessaloniki, Greece. Richard later came back to Klamath Falls and was the creator and editor of an alternate newspaper, Breakdown. Pastega was an activist for many political and social issues. He founded the Klamath Gay Union in the 1970s, an organization which part of a coalition that advocated for Oregon's first sexual orientation non-discrimination bill in 1973.

While openly gay, Richard kept a low profile as an elected city councilmember in the 1970s. He ran for mayor several times but was never elected.

After his father's death in 1976, Richard helped his mother run the family grocery store until it closed in 1998. He also bought and maintained a renovated church, in which he lived and hosted visitors to Klamath Falls. Nicknamed, The Sanctuary, the home served as refuge for many gay travelers.

Richard passed away in 2014.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains diaries and miscellaneous personal papers kept by Richard Pastega during his life in Klamath Falls. These papers represent a unique view on rural life, including Pastega's thoughts on the difficulties and rewards of being a political activist and openly gay man in a conservative rural setting.

The diaries document daily life in Klamath Falls including weather, working in the family grocery store, and maintaining a garden. Additionally, he wrote about the irritations of household chores and sharing a home with multiple visitors, as well as reflections on local, national, and world politics. Pastega's home, a converted church he called "the Sanctuary" was open to travelers passing through town, some of whom were fellow gay men who found refuge with Pastega. Many pages are illustrated with sketches, newspaper clippings, and draft layouts for Breakdown, the underground newspaper published by Pastega.

Also included in this collection is a small amount of correspondence and notes, a brief autobiographical sketch of Pastega written in the late 1970s, some documentation from a celebration of life held for Richard Pastega in 2014, photos, copies of Breakdown from the 1970s and 1980s, and a copy of a Life Magazine article written about the Pastega family in the context of the popularity of the television show, All in the Family. The bulk of the issues of Breakdown were donated to the Klamath County Museum. The Life article was written to compare and contrast the similarities of the characters in All in the Family in the urban setting, and those of a "typical" American family in the rural setting. The Pastega family was chosen by the author as representation of such a "typical" family.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Gay activists