Los Angeles Gayborhoods Evolving

West Hollywood - Apple Maps

from Apple Maps

At less than two square miles, West Hollywood has always proven that size doesn’t matter. The small but mighty city has marched to the beat of its own drum since Moses Sherman bought the land in 1894 to set up shop for his enterprise, the Los Angeles Pacific Railway Co. The settlement grew into worker housing and neighborhood stores but really earned its spot on the map in the 1920s when the Sunset Strip blossomed into the entertainment industry’s nightlife epicenter. The constant flow of celebrities to the area paired with relaxed law enforcement made West Hollywood a magnet for free and creative spirits, laying the foundation for a progressive social climate. Los Angeles made repeated attempts to annex the unincorporated area, but West Hollywood fought to maintain its independence and unique identity. It wasn’t until 1984 that the little town officially became the City of West Hollywood.

“This is the city where people have always come to invent themselves,” says West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “And I just have this idea that we’re inventing the modern family. We’re sort of talking about the generation of people who really grow up in a society in which people are really interested in the quality of the human being.”

Further east and just north of Downtown Los Angeles sits the neighborhood of Silver Lake, L.A.’s edgy East Side gayborhood. It’s home to a more racially diverse population than its Westside counterpart of West Hollywood, but it shares the same free-spirited, artistic appeal. The gayborhood is sandwiched between Echo Park and Franklin Hills, areas that birthed several film studios in the early 1900s. It was here that Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society in 1950, one of the earliest gay rights activist groups, and it’s where the Black Cat Riots led to a turning point in LGBT history. It is also home to the Mattachine Steps, stairs on Cove Avenue that lead to the house where Hay held Mattachine Society meetings.

Today activism is no longer limited to locales like West Hollywood and Silver Lake. Advocacy and acceptance increasingly find their way into the mainstream. L.A.’s annual Pride Parade draws hundreds of thousands of supporters of all ages, races and sexual orientations. Young celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe and Josh Hutcherson use their strong influence on youths to promote advocacy. Even big businesses are taking a stance and making it a commercial statement, like American Apparel and its hugely successful “Legalize Gay” shirt. But, of course, this is all just the beginning.

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Authored By Lydia Siriprakorn – See the Full Story at Frontiers LA

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