When I first came out to L.A. almost exactly a year ago, I’d never been. Never even visited. I barely even knew anyone out here, aside from a few friends I’d met only months before in an artist’s residency. What I knew about it I knew from the movies, and it had been enough: Sunshine, palm trees, people pursuing their often hopeless dreams toward often desperate ends.
I wanted in.
I’d grown up in Western Massachusetts and stuck to the East Coast for my whole life. I hated the seasons, the darkness, the oppressive weather. The idea of California, always a fantasy, hadn’t really seemed like a plausible move. “I’ll move,” I told myself, “when I decide I’m ready to be happy.”
So I suppose that’s what I did.
One of the first things I figured out after getting here is that the shape of L.A. – never conceived of by its settlers as an urban capital – isn’t exactly conducive to “finding your people.” This is one of its greatest cliches – the idea that L.A. is a place full of driven, independent people, driving in cars toward whatever dream they came out here to pursue. The isolation is supposed to be part of the allure.
But weirdly enough, for me, it felt different. I came out here expecting isolation, maybe even craving it. As a trans person who’s never really fit in with a specific queer community, I didn’t have high hopes for finding “my people” anywhere, especially in a place where everybody’s supposed to be career-driven to a fault, self-obsessed, and shallow.
But here’s the thing about people who actually know what they want – they’re actually some of the kindest, most gracious, and utterly alive people you’ll ever meet.
“I’ll move to california,” I told myself, “when I decide I’m ready to be happy.”
That’s what I’ve found, at least so far. Being the editor for The Pride, and getting a chance to know about how the queer community works out here, has been pretty enlightening. Coming out of New York, where people cling together against the harshness of the outside world, and Boston, where people cling together against the even harsher harshness of terrible, “Game of Thrones”– style winters, it’s been interesting to see what people do when they don’t have to spend their time fighting the elements and huddling together for warmth.
L.A.’s queer community comes together because it wants to. We’re a group of people who gather in the sun. Do we face all the same stuff as everyone else? Of course. There’s depression, despair, hopelessness, pain, disbelief. There’s even true terror when it comes to the relentless, back-breaking political news cycle.
But hope can grow here in a different way. In a less harsh climate, nurtured by the sun. And that’s wonderful.
In these pages, you’ll find stories about the ways in which L.A. is carving a path for itself as one of the few places that’s staying true to the American vision. You’ll read about how an All-American sport learned to embrace and celebrate the diversity of its players. You’ll hear about a queer gym – the first of its kind in the nation – that’s radicalizing how trans and gender nonconforming folk approach working out. You’ll hear about classic gay films getting a new audience, and how a group of educators are working to give religious education a queer-inclusive makeover. You’ll learn about history – the history of L.A.’s first pride, its first Dyke Day, and all the grassroots efforts that started long ago and keep growing with each year.
In short, you’ll hear about why L.A. hasn’t given up on America. And why you shouldn’t either.
This year, let’s do away with despair. Let’s think about what’s good in life, and try to contribute to it in whatever ways we can. That’s something that a group of driven, dream-obsessed people shouldn’t have any trouble doing.