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social sciences

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Los Angeles  
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Pioneer leaders in the gay civil rights movement continued their work in the 1970s. Evelyn Hooker, in a 1971 speech at ONE Institute, blamed President Richard Nixon's attitudes toward homosexuality for the lack of federal gay law reform. Hooker also pressed the American Psychiatric Association to remove the classification of homosexuality as an illness, which was accomplished through her and others' work in 1973. The American Psychological Association then followed in 1975.

The world's first glbtq Jewish temple, Beth Chayim Chadashim, was founded in 1972. Other religions with particular outreaches to glbtq people also flourished in Los Angeles.

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Christopher Isherwood, who had long been a Vedantist and widely presumed to be gay, came out explicitly in print in 1971 and became active in the gay movement, frequently speaking to glbtq groups. In 1974 John Rechy extended his depictions of Los Angeles glbtq life in his documentary nonfiction work, The Sexual Outlaw. Writer and Episcopal priest Malcolm Boyd publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in 1977.

The landmark Sisterhood Bookstore in Westwood (near UCLA) was established in 1972. It remained in operation until 1999, when competition from a large chain bookstore across the street became too much for the small business.

Other firsts in the 1970s include the founding of the radio show IMRU in 1975; still broadcast on KPFK, Los Angeles's Pacifica radio station, it is one of the country's longest-running glbtq radio shows. The Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus was founded in 1979 and later became the first such group to perform for a sitting President of the United States.

In the late 1970s the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake (where Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards come together--a former trolley intersection) was revitalized, primarily by gay-owned businesses. This was the area of the Black Cat Bar. At its site a gay bar catering to Latinos was established.

In 1979 A Different Light Bookstore opened at Sunset Junction. It became a cultural center for glbtq Los Angeles, selling new and judicious selections of used books and also holding art exhibits and readings. It hosted the Lesbian Writers Series of Ann Bradley, which celebrated its 25th anniversary at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in March 2004. The series included writers other than those residing in Los Angeles, but featured local poets Eloise Klein Healy and Terry Wolverton, novelists Terri de la Peña and Carla Tomaso, journalist and essayist Robin Podolsky, and writers Carolyn Weathers and Ayofemi Folayan.

A Different Light also hosted open Sunday night readings for gay male writers. In 1996 Rondo Mieczkowski finished the work of the late James Carroll Pickett in selecting and editing these readings for an anthology, Sundays at Seven. The book includes a diverse group of Los Angeles writers such as African-American novelist Larry Duplechan, African-American poet and essayist Mark Haile, mystery writer Michael Nava, novelist and memoirist Paul Monette, writer on spirituality and the leather community Mark Thompson, activist and priest Malcolm Boyd, and playwright Eric Gutierrez.

Acceptance / Devastation: The 1980s

By the late 1970s and the early 1980s glbtq Los Angeles was poised to reap the benefits of its long activism. Instead, AIDS devastated the community. Nevertheless, the hard times brought men and women together when lesbians became caregivers for infected, sick, and dying gay men.

The previous decade's social and cultural boom resulted in political gains extending into the 1980s. Democratic governor Edmund G. ("Jerry") Brown made a series of appointments of gay men to high office. In late 1979 he appointed Stephen Lachs the first openly gay judge anywhere, and in 1980 Brown appointed Rand Schrader to the Municipal Court. In 1981 Brown appointed bathhouse and restaurant owner Sheldon Andelson (half-brother to Paul Monette's lover Roger Horwitz) a Regent of the University of California. Andelson also formed a bank in West Hollywood.

In 1981 ONE Institute was granted recognition as a Graduate School of Homophile Studies, able to grant masters and doctoral degrees. In 1982 the first studio movie to depict a gay relationship sympathetically, Making Love--written by Barry Sandler, starring Michael Ontkean, Harry Hamlin, and Kate Jackson, and set in Los Angeles--was released. Familiar West Hollywood restaurants, bars, and shops appear in the backgrounds. Another studio movie from 1982, Personal Best, tells the story of three women athletes, including a character played by Mariel Hemingway who has affairs both with her male coach and her female competitor and mentor.

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