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social sciences

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Los Angeles  
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In 1982 a film festival--later to become OutFest--began with screenings at UCLA. It now presents the only weekly glbtq screenings in the country, as well as the only glbtq people of color festival. That same year Celebration Theatre opened as a community-based professional theater with the mission of accurately representing the gay and lesbian community to itself and to the community at large. It continues today in a small venue of its own.

In 1983 the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc. (LBLGP, Inc.) was established and produced the first annual Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival & Parade in June of 1984. The establishment of the parade and festival in Long Beach recognized the growth of a large and active glbtq community there. The Long Beach parade now attracts over 75,000 participants and features more than 200 marching groups and floats.

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Minorities began to form organizations within the glbtq communities. While some broke away from groups in which they felt they were not represented, others were formed specifically to fight AIDS, and all promoted a broad variety of social benefits and visibility for minority communities. Several of these groups continue today.

Unidos, a Los Angeles organization for gay Chicanas / Chicanos, had formed in 1970 and Lesbians of Color in 1978, but many more groups of glbtq minorities emerged in the 1980s. Asian/Pacific Lesbians and Gays (A/PLG) formed in late 1980, at the impetus of Morris Kight. A Lesbians of Color conference was held in Malibu in 1983. Lesbianas Unidas was formed in 1984, Asian Pacific Lesbians and Friends in 1985, the Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum in 1988, Uloah (United Lesbians of African Heritage) in 1989, and Bienestar, a Latino AIDS support organization, that same year.

Difficulties between heterosexual Latinos and the gay population and businesses in Silver Lake led to the formation of the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance, which held its first fair in 1980. As writer Garland Richard Kyle has noted, the annual shutting down of the streets in the old location of the Black Cat Bar has been one of the "most concerted organizational attempts in the nation to integrate the gay and lesbian community into the larger urban landscape."

West Hollywood

The biggest accomplishment of the 1980s was realized when in 1984 the residents of West Hollywood voted for incorporation and elected a majority of openly gay city council members, making the district previously known primarily for its entertainment venues America's first gay-controlled city.

The area had long hosted glbtq persons and businesses catering to them. First known as Sherman, it had been the home of the trolley barns for Los Angeles and was known for a concentration of working-class trade and a hotel where gay men could take their pickups.

After World War II, and particularly in the 1960s, gay men began to buy up the working-class cottages. They remodeled them with flair, using styles derived from Jack Wolf. The result was a community in the slopes down from Sunset called the "Swish Alps." Noted residents included photographer George Hoyningen-Huene and Dorothy Parker and her husband Alan Campbell (sometimes identified as gay).

Since it was unincorporated, West Hollywood featured nightclubs and other adult entertainment that operated with less police scrutiny than those in Los Angeles proper. It was known for its bars on Santa Monica Boulevard primarily for gay men and as the location of the Sunset Strip, a mixed entertainment venue, which became home to the Los Angeles hippie counterculture.

Also in the late 1960s the nightclub Ciro's on Sunset offered Sunday nights for gay men to dance together, which was then illegal, but the law was not enforced in the unincorporated area. There was one longstanding lesbian bar, The Palms, owned by gay men.

As well as for its bars, West Hollywood was also known for clothing stores catering to gay men, such as Ah Men, which opened in 1958, and an outlet for Parr of Arizona. Their clothing ads were featured in the physique magazines. Also appealing to gay men were gift and decorative item and craft shops, such as the one owned by the gay African-American actor Brock Peters.

Restaurants on Santa Monica Boulevard, such as Por Favor, also created a community more layered than just a strip of bars. But like the bars, the restaurants often had no windows facing on the street and a front door that allowed almost secret access. West Hollywood also had a large market, called Shermart, which served as "gay central" until it was torn down to build a sheriff's station.

Shortly after incorporation, the new city of West Hollywood made great strides. The first mayor was lesbian Valerie Terrigno, who resigned after she was convicted of embezzlement that occurred before her election. Other glbtq persons continued to be elected to the council, which promptly adopted a landmark anti-discrimination policy, provided domestic partnership benefits for city employees, established a civil union registry, and improved local law enforcement's relations with glbtq citizens. These policies have been described by Los Angeles cultural geographer Moira Rachel Kenney as "models for other cities and states."

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