Los Angeles is a dream that often becomes a reality. Prestige, artistry, and elegance tend to allure a slew of people to establish their new homes. In the 1960s, Los Angeles began to appeal to the LGBTQ community, creating a newfound mecca. Not only did queers from the United States relocate to Los Angeles, Los Angeles attracted people from overseas, creating a new dynamic. What could possibly be so appealing to people from different countries? Los Angeles had plenty to offer with many opportunities. Not just glamour and luxury, Los Angeles served as a haven for queers by way of inclusive establishments, considerable income, and gay rights advocacy.
One of the contributing factors to Los Angeles being seen as a mecca, was their inclusive establishments. Los Angeles was famously known for their gay bars. Although illegal in the 1960s, people from the LGBTQ community were able to embrace each other for the time being. In 1965, Bob Damron created “The Address Book”. This book gave queers the ability to find nightclubs, bars, restaurants etc., that had an openly gay crowd. It is said that Damron’s book, “confirmed that a gay America existed.” (Gurba, “A Guide to Gay LA”)
Among the many clubs in Los Angeles, Red Raven was the most popular. So popular in fact, police used to raid this bar regularly. While there was a particular danger associated with patronizing gay bars, it created a community for those who accepted their reality. Illustrated by Gurba, Damron’s guidebook told readers, “where to find doorways flowing towards danger and joyful possibility.” (“A Guide to Gay LA”) While the clientele knew of the repercussions of frequenting exclusive gay bars, they found enjoyment in knowing they were not unequalled. Correspondingly, Los Angeles also had inclusive motorcycle clubs.
In 1954, the Satyrs Motorcycle Club was founded by Chapin “Smitty” Smith and seven other men. This club consisted of queer men who were discharged from the military post World War II. The Satyrs club lasted well into the 1960s. Thanks to the founding of the Satyrs Motorcycle Club, additional gay motorcycle clubs were established. Oedipus Motorcycle club would be the next club founded in 1958, by former members of the Satyrs Club. In 1968, Blue Max Motorcycle Club was conceived. These motorcycle clubs served as a retreat from the prejudice members were experiencing daily. As you can see, inclusive establishments, such as gay bars and motorcycle clubs, created a scene that captivated members of the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, Hollywood’s considerable income assisted in the LGBTQ communities move to Los Angeles.
Hollywood was already the most successful movie industry, thanks to the Golden Age. For the members of the LGBTQ community who were creative, they were able to bask in Hollywood’s achievements. During this time, Hollywood directors created many movies that succeeded all across the United States. With this success, Hollywood became the center of fame and fortune. This ultimately created a great deal of jobs. From acting, to set designing, there was always a place to earn a considerable income. For this reason, queer people were able to work comfortably in Hollywood. Working in Hollywood was favorable for the LGBTQ community, taking into account that sexual orientation did not have to be disclosed. Meaning that queer people could work and enjoy their work without being persecuted for their sexual preferences. With this in mind, members of the LGBTQ community were able to live creatively, making Hollywood the perfect place for them to showcase their talents and earn a living. For this reason, the famous queer painter, David Hockney, moved to Los Angeles in 1964 from England.
Hockney began painting the beautiful pools which laid within the marvelous homes in the Hollywood hills. Hockney’s fame soared, he then began painting portraits for famous people like Christopher Isherwood and Fred Weisman. Hockney made a generous living painting pictures for the rich and famous, becoming the like of fame. All things considered, considerable income in Los Angeles made it possible for queers to create their new successful lives.Additionally, Los Angeles was home to gay rights advocacy. This attracted a mass of members from the LGBTQ community. Harry Hay established the first gay rights advocacy group in Los Angeles, California in the 1950s. This group would be known as the “Mattachine Society” or “Homophile Movement”. This society’s work focused on helping the heterosexual population understand that homosexuals were typical human beings. For instance, Queer A Graphic History, states the Mattachine Society, “used assimilationist strategies: arguing that homosexual people were the same as heterosexual people in all important ways.” (Barker/Scheele, 25)
Unfortunately, their message was received impartially by heterosexuals. The Mattachine Society gained popularity when one of their members, Dale Jennings, was arrested for soliciting. Instead of pleading guilty, the Mattachine Society decided to contest his charges. With this, people began to support the group financially and the number of members rose. Much like the Mattachine Society, two gay rights advocacy groups, Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE) and Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile (SCCRH) protested against police prejudice and brutality. On February 11, 1967 in Los Angeles, a protest took place at the Black Cat Tavern, a well-known gay bar. Patrons at the Black Cat Tavern were repeatedly harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department. Nearly 600 members of the LGBTQ community, attended the protest. Regrettably, the LAPD and courts in California ignored the calls for equality and justice in the gay community. Despite their call for justice being ignored, their work brought about a society that supported queers all over California. Los Angeles became the mecca for queers. (expand)
In Los Angeles, there were many inclusive environments available to those in the LGBTQ community, making them feel welcomed and creating many bonds. Los Angeles was also dominating the movie industry making a great economy for those in the industry, also giving artists a platform to display their art ( make an income). Los Angeles was home to the first gay rights advocacy group, bringing awareness to the mistreatment and prejudice against the LGBTQ community. Overall, Los Angeles became a welcoming home to queers and continues to be. (speak about how today is effected)
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