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social sciences

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Los Angeles  
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More conventional political gains were made when in 1993 Jackie Goldberg (not yet out to her electorate) won a seat on the Los Angeles city council. Sheila Kuehl, the beloved star of television's The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-1963) became the first openly gay member of the California legislature when she was elected in 1994; she is currently serving as state senator.

Through the late 1980s and 1990s performance art was again in the forefront with a diverse group of artists, such as Luis Alfaro, Monica Palacio, and Tim Miller, often appearing in Santa Monica at the performance space Highways.

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Beginning in 1989 and continuing into a few years into the 1990s, a group of Los Angeles writers--at the behest of Mark Thompson and Betty Berzon--met at Berzon's home to form the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Writers Circle, perhaps the most mixed and diverse group of glbtq writers to meet formally anywhere. Attending these meetings or associated with the group were, among others, Boyd, Duplechan, Healy, Gutierrez, Monette, Nava, Podolsky, Sandler, and Wolverton, as well as Bernard Cooper, Gil Cuadros, Jacqueline De Angelis, Lillian Faderman, Katherine V. Forrest, Bia Lowe, and Elisabeth Nonas.

With the death of Dorr Legg in 1994 and the declining health of Jim Kepner, ONE Institute and IGLA were officially merged in 1994. Now named ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, it is housed but not funded by the University of Southern California. An invaluable repository of history, ONE is now the largest U.S. glbtq archives as well as the longest-lived glbtq organization in the U.S.

Vox Femina LA, a women's choral ensemble dedicated to performing choral literature by women composers, was founded in 1997, and is directed by Dr. Iris S. Levine. The performers comprise a diverse family, who are lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual.

A New Century and a New Commitment: 2000 to the Present

In the face of broad national hostility to glbtq issues in the early years of the twenty-first century, California and Los Angeles are success stories in the movement for equality. Politicians elected in the 1990s and since continue to make strides in prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Los Angeles and West Hollywood, as well as the entire state of California.

West Hollywood continued to elect glbtq persons to the city council. John Heilman, elected to the first council, still serves, and has been mayor six times. Jeffrey Prang, first elected in 1997, and John Duran, elected in 2001, have also served as mayor.

In the early 2000s, several significant pieces of legislation affecting glbtq concerns were passed into law in California, including bills on hate crimes, discrimination in hiring and public accommodations, healthcare for people with HIV, equal benefits in state contracting, and a comprehensive domestic partnership bill. California affords the greatest amount of legal protection to glbtq citizens of any state in the country, and many of these gains were spearheaded by Los Angeles's representatives in the legislature.

Both Goldberg, who now serves in the state assembly, and Kuehl, in the senate, have made landmark contributions, such as adding as a category of protection against hate crimes. Shirley Bushnell and other transgender activists in Transgender Menace have worked to promote awareness and legislation.

In 2003 Democratic governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill that made California only the fourth state in the U.S. to protect transgendered individuals from discrimination. The California legislature is the only state legislature to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, though it was vetoed by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Kuehl's most recent legislation was meant to require teaching glbtq history, but it was watered down for passage when Governor Schwarzenegger threatened to veto it. Even the watered-down version was vetoed by Schwarzenegger.

In May 2005, Bill Rosendahl became the first openly gay person elected to the Los Angeles city council. The glbtq community has worked successfully to enlist allies, so that both the county Board of Supervisors and the City Council offered symbolic resolutions against President George W. Bush's proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages.

Demographic changes are occurring in southern California and the high cost of living has affected the glbtq communities. West Hollywood now has a smaller percentage of glbtq residents than it did several years ago. Bob Gentry, a former mayor of Laguna Beach, has noted that the high cost of living in Laguna has kept younger glbtq people from locating there. Hence, Laguna Beach's landmark gay bar, the Boom Boom Room, may face closure soon.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the glbtq communities and organizations in Los Angeles share the difficulties of those elsewhere, particularly in obtaining funding. Both public and private funding for community organizations has diminished in the new millennium. Foundations and corporations are not dispensing the money they did in the past. Still, fundraising remains high for places such as the Center and continues in earnest for the many smaller and diverse organizations throughout the city.

If activities associated with Los Angeles and even its climate were for decades denigrated by the eastern establishment, by the end of the twentieth century the city had earned grudging respect for its cultural and spiritual offerings, which are as various as Vedanta and Self-Realization, Hollywood imagery and noir literature, to say nothing of educational institutions as impressive as the Getty Art Center, the Huntington Library, USC, and UCLA.

Glbtq people in Los Angeles have contributed mightily to the vibrancy of the city. The recent political and social progress made by the glbtq communities in Los Angeles can only improve the quality of life for everyone.

Dan Luckenbill

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social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Metropolitan Community Church

The Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination founded to minister to the glbtq community, has grown into a worldwide ministry with over 40,000 members in 18 countries.

social sciences >> Overview:  New York City

Off and on over two centuries, New York City has also reigned as the capital of homosexual, transgender, and queer life in America.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  San Francisco

San Francisco has enjoyed a reputation as a "gay mecca" since World War II.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender Activism

Since the late nineteenth century, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the kinds of oppression and discrimination they suffer.

arts >> Acosta, Mercedes de

Poet, playwright, screenwriter, costume designer, and memoirist, Mercedes de Acosta is remembered today for her love affairs with some of the most glamorous women of her time.

social sciences >> ACT UP

Using bold images and confrontational tactics, ACT UP worked to promote awareness of AIDS and challenge the complacency of politicians and government officials in the early years of the epidemic.

arts >> Arzner, Dorothy

Lesbian filmmaker Dorothy Arzner, the only woman director in 1930s and 1940s Hollywood, made films that convey the varieties of women's experiences and desires and the tenacity of women's relationships with other women.

arts >> Bachardy, Don

American artist Don Bachardy, the long-time companion of novelist Christopher Isherwood, has achieved renown in his own right for his nudes and celebrity portraits, which honestly convey the personalities of his sitters.

literature >> Bannon, Ann

In a series of five interlinked pulp novels set in Greenwich Village and its homosexual bars in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bannon provides an important record of lesbian life in a period when few women dared speak openly about homosexuality.

social sciences >> Barr, James (James Fugaté)

James Barr is the pseudonym under which James Fugaté published the popular novel Quatrefoil (1950) and other works, and which he used as an activist in the homophile movement of the 1950s.

social sciences >> Bean, Carl

Carl Bean, founder of Unity Fellowship Church, gave up a promising entertainment career to pursue his vocation as a clergyman to minister to glbtq Christians of color.

arts >> Bentley, Gladys

African-American Blues singer Gladys Bentley openly flaunted her lesbianism in the 1920s and 1930s, but recanted in the 1950s in an attempt to salvage her career.

social sciences >> Boston Marriages

Boston marriages--romantic unions between women that were usually monogamous but not necessarily sexual--flourished in the late nineteenth-century between women who tended to be college-educated, feminist, financially independent, and career-minded.

social sciences >> Boyd, Malcolm

In 1977 Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest and prolific author, became the first prominent openly gay clergyman in a mainstream Christian denomination in the United States.

arts >> Cage, John

The music of controversial American composer John Cage contains little autobiographical or gay content, but his ironic emphasis on the importance of silence in music may comment on the imposed silence of the closet.

literature >> Cooper, Bernard

Award-winning writer Bernard Cooper blurs the boundaries between autobiography, essay, poetry, and fiction in his elegantly crafted works that focus on sexuality, memory, and growing up gay in the 1950s and 1960s.

literature >> Crane, Hart

A successor to Walt Whitman, Hart Crane found spiritual transcendence in homoerotic desire.

arts >> Cukor, George

Responsible for many of the most popular and critically praised films of Hollywood's golden age, George Cukor became typed as a "woman's director," a phrase that may have also alluded to his homosexuality.

social sciences >> Daughters of Bilitis

The first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis was a significant part of the pre-Stonewall lesbian and gay rights movement.

arts >> Dietrich, Marlene

Actress and cabaret performer Marlene Dietrich scandalized society almost as much by wearing trousers in public as by her numerous love affairs with both men and women.

literature >> Duplechan, Larry

Lambda Award-winning author Larry Duplechan is best known for Blackbird (1987), a coming of age novel about a black teenager growing up in the bland outer suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1970s.

social sciences >> Equality California (EQCA)

Equality California (EQCA) is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide glbtq advocacy and civil rights organizations in the United States.

arts >> Faye, Frances

Gravel-voiced vocalist and pianist Frances Faye warmly embraced her gay and lesbian audience and was openly bisexual at a time when few other performers dared to do the same.

literature >> Forrest, Katherine V.

Writer and editor Katherine V. Forrest has played a major role in bringing lesbian fiction to the forefront of the mystery and science fiction genres.

arts >> Garbo, Greta

Mysterious, aloof, occasionally androgynous, actress Greta Garbo ignited the passions of men and women alike.

arts >> Garland, Judy

The fragile persona and emotion-packed voice of actress and singer Judy Garland are powerfully linked to gay culture and identity; she appealed especially to gay men, but also to lesbians.

social sciences >> Gay Liberation Front

Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.

arts >> Gernreich, Rudi

Associated particularly with the 1960s fashion revolution, Rudi Gernreich was one of the great modernists of fashion design, making his clothes futuristic both technically and stylistically.

arts >> Grant, Cary

Although actor Cary Grant consistently denied rumors of his bisexuality, his good looks, charisma, and ambiguous sexuality enchanted women and men alike.

literature >> Grier, Barbara

As bibliographer, reviewer, collector, editor, and co-founder of Naiad Press, Barbara Grier was an important nurturer of lesbian literature.

arts >> Haines, William "Billy"

Among the top five motion picture actors from 1928 to 1933, William "Billy" Haines later became one of the most successful interior designers in the country.

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There has been renewed interest in the life and work of American adventurer and travel writer Richard Halliburton at least in part because of his homosexuality.

literature >> Hansen, Joseph

Best known as the author of the Dave Brandstetter mystery series, Hansen also published a considerable body of nonmystery fiction and poetry, most of it dominated by homosexual characters and themes.

social sciences >> Hay, Harry

Activist Harry Hay, an original member of both the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries, is recognized as one of the principal founders of the gay liberation movement in the United States.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

social sciences >> Hooker, Evelyn

American psychologist Evelyn Hooker's pioneering studies on male homosexuality in the 1950s and 1960s challenged the "sickness" model of homosexuality then prevalent.

arts >> Hudson, Rock

A product of Hollywood's star system, Rock Hudson became an international symbol of heterosexuality, wearing a mask until it was savagely ripped off when he was diagnosed with AIDS.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

literature >> Jennings, William Dale

Editor and author Dale Jennings was a pioneer of the American gay rights movement, one of the co-founders of both the Mattachine Society and ONE, Inc.

literature >> Kepner, Jim

Jim Kepner was both a pioneering gay journalist and a homophile activist who founded the International Gay and Lesbian Archives.

social sciences >> Kight, Morris

Los Angeles activist Morris Kight, a determined and courageous--if sometimes eccentric--fighter for glbtq rights, worked for decades in the struggle for equality.

social sciences >> Kuehl, Sheila James

Once best known as a youthful actor, Sheila James Kuehl is now a respected California state legislator and a vigorous advocate for glbtq rights.

arts >> Lambert, Gavin

Best known as a screenwriter, Gavin Lambert was also a novelist and biographer who captured the essence of life in the film community in a perceptive and witty fashion.

social sciences >> Legg, W. Dorr

A pioneer in the American gay rights movement and in glbtq studies, W. Dorr Legg won a landmark Supreme Court decision establishing the right to send homosexual content through the U.S. mail.

social sciences >> Mattachine Society

One of the earliest American gay movement organizations, the Mattachine Society was dedicated to the cultural and political liberation of homosexuals; but in the face of McCarthyism, it adopted conservative policies of accommodationism.

arts >> Miller, Tim

Performance artist Tim Miller presents shows that are rooted in his own life experiences, but that are also a powerful form of glbtq activism.

literature >> Monette, Paul

In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.

literature >> Nava, Michael

Mystery writer Michael Nava has increasingly been recognized as an important novelist whose mature work transcends the limited expectations of a popular and highly specialized genre.

arts >> Novarro, Ramon

The romantic idol of Hollywood silent films in the 1920s, Ramon Novarro has been perceived as a distinctly effeminate performer.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Perry, Troy

Troy Perry is the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination devoted to ministering to the spiritual needs of glbtq people.

arts >> Porter, Cole

Living the paradoxical life of an openly closeted gay man, songwriter Cole Porter introduced non-normative values and risqué double entendres into what was one of the most pedestrian and hackneyed of cultural forms.

social sciences >> Queer Nation

The short-lived militant group Queer Nation, which emerged in 1990, made a lasting impact on sexual identity politics in the United States.

literature >> Rechy, John

In his novels about hustling, preeminently City of Night and Numbers, John Rechy moves from the world of homosexual behavior into the world of gay identity.

arts >> Roberts, Mel

In his 1960s and 1970s images of hikers, bikers, and surfers, photographer and activist Mel Roberts captured the spirit of the California Dream that lured thousands of gay men to the Golden State in search of freedom and opportunity after World War II.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

social sciences >> Slater, Don

An early leader in the struggle for glbtq rights, Los Angeles activist Don Slater was sometimes at odds with others in the movement but never wavered in his devotion to the cause.

literature >> Vidal, Gore

The multifaceted Gore Vidal is important in the gay literary heritage because of the straightforwardness with which he pursued gay themes and included gay characters in his work.

social sciences >> Voeller, Bruce

American activist and scientist Bruce Voeller was a leader in both the gay rights movement and the fight against AIDS.

arts >> Waters, Ethel

Perhaps best remembered for her award-winning performances as an actress, Ethel Waters was also a renowned Blues singer, known to have sexual relationships with other women.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

literature >> Williams, Tennessee

Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.

literature >> Wilson, John Morgan

John Morgan Wilson is best known today as the author of a gay male mystery series featuring a flawed and often exasperating amateur detective named Benjamin Justice.

literature >> Wolverton, Terry

Throughout her varied career as a writer, editor, teacher, and performance artist, Terry Wolverton has consistently worked to document glbtq history and increase the visibility of the community.


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Berzon, Betty. Surviving Madness: A Therapist's Own Story. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

Bryant, Clora, et al. Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Bullough, Vern L., ed. Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Binghamton, N. Y.: Harrington Park Press, 2002.

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DeAcosta, Mercedes. Here Lies the Heart. New York: Reynal, 1960.

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    Citation Information
    Author: Luckenbill, Dan  
    Entry Title: Los Angeles  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated December 12, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
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    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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