America's Gay City Turns 30 | Outtraveler

America's Gay City Turns 30

America's Gay City Turns 30

It was a coalition of renters, seniors, and gays who came together to create West Hollywood back in late November 1984. Each group has differing interests — for the gays it was police brutality and unlawful arrests — and some concerns they all shared, like affordable rent. Carving out 1.9 square miles of unincorporated Los Angeles County, sandwiched between the cities of L.A. and Beverly Hills, the disparate groups helped cement the area's status as a safe, progressive area for all.

Pride parades had rolled through Santa Monica Boulevard since the days of Stonewall and gay men had danced at the clubs on Robertson Boulevard for decades. But having West Hollywood as an official city meant more positive changes to the tens of thousands living there. The city became the first municipality in the nation to have a majority gay governing body. In 1985, West Hollywood set up one of the first domestic registries in the nation. While other bureaucrats dithered, city officials mobilized against HIV and AIDS.

"The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations," according to the city's website. "The City sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally." The city created a transgender task force in 2001, when many people, including gays, didn't know what that term meant. Additionally, strong rent controls were established for the city's many renters.

Celebrations for WeHo's anniversary will stretch in 2015; read more here and check out some vintage photos of the city's early days below.


A pair with arms around the other, parade down Santa Monica Boulevard in the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade, July 1984. Photo by Mike Sergieff. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

Host Larry Gross introduces 3 out of 5 new city council members to over 250 persons who came to celebrate the newest city's formation. The residents of West Hollywood voted for cityhood in the last election. November 26, 1984. Photo by Mike Sergieff. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

West Hollywood residents gather in the unfinished city hall building to view entries in the city seal competition. July 25, 1985. Photo by Anne Knudsen. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

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