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Mapping Los Angeles's groundbreaking role in LGBT history

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When we think of LGBT culture and the movement for gay rights in Los Angeles, there's a tendency to think first of West Hollywood. But LA's rich gay history touches the entire city, from Edendale (now Silver Lake/Echo Park) to Huntington Park to "Ginger Rogers" Beach. From police brutality to the AIDS crisis, the city was often aggressively positioned against the queer community, but it made a space for itself. Below is a map of 14 of the most important locations in the fight for gay rights in LA.

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1. Cooper Do-Nuts

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This incident, though relatively small in size, is often considered by historians to be the first modern uprising against police treatment of gay people.

John Rechy, a noted chronicler of gay LA, wrote in his book City of Night that this location of the Cooper doughnut chain on Main Street was the site of a 1959 uprising of transgender women and street hustlers. The event has also been detailed in the 2009 book Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, says Out magazine.

Rechy, who was present in the doughnut shop on the night in May 1959 when the riot took place, notes that at this time, it was not uncommon for police to arrest members of the gay populace simply for congregating or being in a bar that was being raided. (It was this kind of police attention that also inspired the Black Cat riot in Silver Lake seven years later.)

Resentment at being targeted by the police came to a head in the Cooper Do-Nuts, and when police came into the especially popular gay hangout attempting to arrest three people (Rechy among them), some of the trans women and gay patrons bombarded the officers with donuts, coffee, and paper plates until the police ran out seeking backup. When they came back, the event escalated such that it ultimately shut down Main Street for a full day.

Gay L.A. says the Cooper Do-Nuts was located between two older gay bars, Harold's and the Waldorf on Main Street, south of the Rosslyn. Everything south of the Rosslyn is now a parking garage or lot.

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2. Harry Hay's House

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2328 Cove Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Harry Hay, credited with founding the first gay right organization, the Mattachine Society, lived and had meetings here at the time the group began in 1950. (It started as Bachelors Anonymous.) Kevin Roderick wrote in his insightful eulogy for Hay in Los Angeles magazine that many consider the house to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement. The concrete stairs adjacent to his home were named the Mattachine Steps in 2012, to commemorate his contributions to the gay rights movement.

Michael Locke/Curbed LA flickr pool

3. Rev. Troy Perry's Home

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6205 Miles Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255

Christopher Street West (the organization that produced the first PRIDE parade) was founded here at the home of Reverend Troy Perry (founder of the Metropolitan Community Church), according to the LA Pride website, and this is where the idea for the parade was born in May 1970. (The first PRIDE took place in June 1970.) It's also been reported that Perry performed the first public same-sex marriage in this house in 1968.

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4. Griffith Park

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4730 Crystal Springs Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The picnic grounds at Griffith Park were the site of Gay-Ins starting in 1968. A flyer for what claims to be the first Gay-In says it was both fun and educational, beginning with a primer on police harassment and ending with a bar crawl.

5. Julian Eltinge's Villa Capistrano

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2327 Fargo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Vaudeville star and female impersonator Julian Eltinge was so wildly successful that in 1918 he had noted architects Pierpont and Walter S. Davis (with Henry F. Withey) build him Villa Capistrano, a lavish and opulent Spanish-Moorish home with a sunken garden. (The house is now privately owned and the gardens are gone.) Despite his popularity and fame, he was under scrutiny for his perceived homosexuality. Especially toward the end of his career, police created problems for him: At a show in a Hollywood gay club, he was made to do his act in a tux instead of his gowns due to an anti-cross-dressing law.

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6. Black Cat Tavern

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3909 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029

This city historic-cultural monument (#939) was the site of a brutal police raid in 1967 that spread to adjacent bars, becoming a full-blown riot and resulting in more than a dozen arrests. The protests in response to the raid predated the Stonewall riots in New York by two years.

7. RKO Studios, Lisa Ben, and Vice Versa

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780 North Gower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Vice Versa, widely acknowledged as the first known lesbian magazine, was published in 1947 by "Lisa Ben," using carbon paper and the typewriter at her job as a secretary at what was then RKO Studios.

8. Pershing Square

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532 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Pershing Square was the center of "The Run," a circuit of gay-friendly establishments and cruising spots that served in the 1920s through the 1960s as what the book Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians calls "the premier homosexual spot." But it was also a centralized place where people could meet and socialize in the absence of a strong out gay community. The Run included the Central Library, the bar at the Biltmore Hotel, and the Subway Terminal Building's bathrooms.

9. Jewel's Catch One

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4067 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

When this club opened in 1972, it was the first exclusively for African-American gay and lesbian party people. At the time, popular gay clubs like Studio One were known to hassle black people for multiple forms of ID before letting them in.

In September 2014, club proprietor Jewel Thais-Williams put the building up for sale, saying, "after 41 years, there's no reason to stay if the kids are not interested. And I'm not interested in chasing them to find out what they want to do, either." The club was bought by Mitch Edelson, who runs Silver Lake's Los Globos venue with his father, Steve Edelson. It's been rechristened as Union.

Though the trailblazing club is gone, its legacy lives on: Jewel's Catch One was the subject of a recent documentary.

Google Maps

10. One Archives Gallery & Museum

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626 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

ONE magazine was the first wide-distribution magazine for gay people. Its founder Jim Kepner went on to amass what became the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, now housed permanently in West Adams, courtesy of USC.

This WeHo arm of the One Archives is usually open to the public and hosts rotating art exhibits, but is currently under renovation and is closed until spring 2017. During the closure, there's expected to be off-site exhibits at Plummer Park.

A photo posted by ONE Archives (@onearchives) on

11. Will Rogers State Beach

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15100 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(310) 305-9546

A section of this state beach is recognized as LA's unofficial gay beach, and has been referred to by the nickname Ginger Rogers Beach since the 1950s. The gay section is close to PCH and Entrada Drive/West Channel Road, though now it's mostly seen as part of the larger beach.

Google Maps

12. Prospect Studios

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4151 Prospect Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The first edition of LGBT-focused magazine The Advocate (then more of a newsletter) was published in 1967. The issue was mimeographed (under the radar, of course) in the basement of what was then ABC Television Studios West, now Prospect Studios.

Google Maps

13. Tom of Finland House

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1419 Laveta Terrace
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tom of Finland was name that Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen used when he first started submitting his homoerotic art to magazines popular among gay, male readers. This house in Echo Park eventually became his home, and his presence drew notable gay artists such as John Waters and Robert Maplethorpe to the home as well, which became a gathering place.

Tom of Finland went on to have appreciation for his art grow, and exhibited his work in museums like LACMA. His work, showing strong, virile men, was considered especially important in the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic meant that the prevailing image of gay men was the opposite of muscular and healthy.

The house is now the home of the Tom of Finland Foundation, an archive for homoerotic art. Just last year, for its connection to Tom of Finland and its merits as a turn-of-the-century Craftsman house, the Tom of Finland house received city Historic-Cultural Monument status. In a letter of support for the house receiving this designation, the West Coast editor of Architectural Digest wrote that Laaksonen's artwork "one of the most important forces in the evolution of gay culture in the 20th century."

14. Great Hall/Long Hall at Plummer Park

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7377 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046

During the deadly AIDS crisis, this New Deal-era park building hosted meetings of the local chapter of ACT UP, an AIDS advocacy group. It served, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy as, “the backdrop to unprecedented campaigns for greater visibility and more effective treatment” of the disease.

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1. Cooper Do-Nuts

Los Angeles, CA 90013
Google Maps

This incident, though relatively small in size, is often considered by historians to be the first modern uprising against police treatment of gay people.

John Rechy, a noted chronicler of gay LA, wrote in his book City of Night that this location of the Cooper doughnut chain on Main Street was the site of a 1959 uprising of transgender women and street hustlers. The event has also been detailed in the 2009 book Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, says Out magazine.

Rechy, who was present in the doughnut shop on the night in May 1959 when the riot took place, notes that at this time, it was not uncommon for police to arrest members of the gay populace simply for congregating or being in a bar that was being raided. (It was this kind of police attention that also inspired the Black Cat riot in Silver Lake seven years later.)

Resentment at being targeted by the police came to a head in the Cooper Do-Nuts, and when police came into the especially popular gay hangout attempting to arrest three people (Rechy among them), some of the trans women and gay patrons bombarded the officers with donuts, coffee, and paper plates until the police ran out seeking backup. When they came back, the event escalated such that it ultimately shut down Main Street for a full day.

Gay L.A. says the Cooper Do-Nuts was located between two older gay bars, Harold's and the Waldorf on Main Street, south of the Rosslyn. Everything south of the Rosslyn is now a parking garage or lot.

2. Harry Hay's House

2328 Cove Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Michael Locke/Curbed LA flickr pool

Harry Hay, credited with founding the first gay right organization, the Mattachine Society, lived and had meetings here at the time the group began in 1950. (It started as Bachelors Anonymous.) Kevin Roderick wrote in his insightful eulogy for Hay in Los Angeles magazine that many consider the house to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement. The concrete stairs adjacent to his home were named the Mattachine Steps in 2012, to commemorate his contributions to the gay rights movement.

2328 Cove Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039

3. Rev. Troy Perry's Home

6205 Miles Avenue, Huntington Park, CA 90255
Google Maps

Christopher Street West (the organization that produced the first PRIDE parade) was founded here at the home of Reverend Troy Perry (founder of the Metropolitan Community Church), according to the LA Pride website, and this is where the idea for the parade was born in May 1970. (The first PRIDE took place in June 1970.) It's also been reported that Perry performed the first public same-sex marriage in this house in 1968.

6205 Miles Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255

4. Griffith Park

4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The picnic grounds at Griffith Park were the site of Gay-Ins starting in 1968. A flyer for what claims to be the first Gay-In says it was both fun and educational, beginning with a primer on police harassment and ending with a bar crawl.

4730 Crystal Springs Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027

5. Julian Eltinge's Villa Capistrano

2327 Fargo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Google Maps

Vaudeville star and female impersonator Julian Eltinge was so wildly successful that in 1918 he had noted architects Pierpont and Walter S. Davis (with Henry F. Withey) build him Villa Capistrano, a lavish and opulent Spanish-Moorish home with a sunken garden. (The house is now privately owned and the gardens are gone.) Despite his popularity and fame, he was under scrutiny for his perceived homosexuality. Especially toward the end of his career, police created problems for him: At a show in a Hollywood gay club, he was made to do his act in a tux instead of his gowns due to an anti-cross-dressing law.

2327 Fargo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90039

6. Black Cat Tavern

3909 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029

This city historic-cultural monument (#939) was the site of a brutal police raid in 1967 that spread to adjacent bars, becoming a full-blown riot and resulting in more than a dozen arrests. The protests in response to the raid predated the Stonewall riots in New York by two years.

3909 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029

7. RKO Studios, Lisa Ben, and Vice Versa

780 North Gower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Vice Versa, widely acknowledged as the first known lesbian magazine, was published in 1947 by "Lisa Ben," using carbon paper and the typewriter at her job as a secretary at what was then RKO Studios.

780 North Gower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90068

8. Pershing Square

532 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Pershing Square was the center of "The Run," a circuit of gay-friendly establishments and cruising spots that served in the 1920s through the 1960s as what the book Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians calls "the premier homosexual spot." But it was also a centralized place where people could meet and socialize in the absence of a strong out gay community. The Run included the Central Library, the bar at the Biltmore Hotel, and the Subway Terminal Building's bathrooms.

532 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

9. Jewel's Catch One

4067 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Google Maps

When this club opened in 1972, it was the first exclusively for African-American gay and lesbian party people. At the time, popular gay clubs like Studio One were known to hassle black people for multiple forms of ID before letting them in.

In September 2014, club proprietor Jewel Thais-Williams put the building up for sale, saying, "after 41 years, there's no reason to stay if the kids are not interested. And I'm not interested in chasing them to find out what they want to do, either." The club was bought by Mitch Edelson, who runs Silver Lake's Los Globos venue with his father, Steve Edelson. It's been rechristened as Union.

Though the trailblazing club is gone, its legacy lives on: Jewel's Catch One was the subject of a recent documentary.

4067 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

10. One Archives Gallery & Museum

626 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

ONE magazine was the first wide-distribution magazine for gay people. Its founder Jim Kepner went on to amass what became the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, now housed permanently in West Adams, courtesy of USC.

This WeHo arm of the One Archives is usually open to the public and hosts rotating art exhibits, but is currently under renovation and is closed until spring 2017. During the closure, there's expected to be off-site exhibits at Plummer Park.

A photo posted by ONE Archives (@onearchives) on

626 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

11. Will Rogers State Beach

15100 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Google Maps

A section of this state beach is recognized as LA's unofficial gay beach, and has been referred to by the nickname Ginger Rogers Beach since the 1950s. The gay section is close to PCH and Entrada Drive/West Channel Road, though now it's mostly seen as part of the larger beach.

15100 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

12. Prospect Studios

4151 Prospect Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Google Maps

The first edition of LGBT-focused magazine The Advocate (then more of a newsletter) was published in 1967. The issue was mimeographed (under the radar, of course) in the basement of what was then ABC Television Studios West, now Prospect Studios.

4151 Prospect Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

13. Tom of Finland House

1419 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tom of Finland was name that Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen used when he first started submitting his homoerotic art to magazines popular among gay, male readers. This house in Echo Park eventually became his home, and his presence drew notable gay artists such as John Waters and Robert Maplethorpe to the home as well, which became a gathering place.

Tom of Finland went on to have appreciation for his art grow, and exhibited his work in museums like LACMA. His work, showing strong, virile men, was considered especially important in the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic meant that the prevailing image of gay men was the opposite of muscular and healthy.

The house is now the home of the Tom of Finland Foundation, an archive for homoerotic art. Just last year, for its connection to Tom of Finland and its merits as a turn-of-the-century Craftsman house, the Tom of Finland house received city Historic-Cultural Monument status. In a letter of support for the house receiving this designation, the West Coast editor of Architectural Digest wrote that Laaksonen's artwork "one of the most important forces in the evolution of gay culture in the 20th century."

1419 Laveta Terrace
Los Angeles, CA 90026

14. Great Hall/Long Hall at Plummer Park

7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

During the deadly AIDS crisis, this New Deal-era park building hosted meetings of the local chapter of ACT UP, an AIDS advocacy group. It served, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy as, “the backdrop to unprecedented campaigns for greater visibility and more effective treatment” of the disease.

7377 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046