“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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