April 20, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY L.A. – Long Beach’s Central Place in Queer L.A. History

From an era-defining raid to a gentrification hotspot, a breakdown of Long Beach’s part in the movement.

Long Beach’s queer roots go deep. Even if we’re, for some reason, not taking into account the city’s seminal role in criminalizing oral sex, the relationship between Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ residents and its history as a thriving city is quite rich, if also quite violent.

Long Beach seems like it was always on the radar of queers trying to a find a place that wasn’t too LA-central or too suburban. In 1914, two men were arrested during a raid of the 606 Club and the 96 Club, two gay spaces that had been on the police force’s radar for some time. The bust was huge, and one of the first entrapment schemes that garnered wide press – especially after one of the victims took his own life later on.

In the 1950s, gay bars like The Patch and gay societies like the Daughters of Bilitis and the Long Beach-based Satyrs Motorcycle Club offered a way for LGBT residents to gather far away from the threat of police raids.

Later on, in the1980s, long-running lesbian bars like Que Sera popped up, which helped artists like Melissa Etheridge come to fame.

In the midst of all this, however, the threat of entrapment, police violence and random homophobic acts lingered in the background. The first hard-won Long Beach Pride Parade in 1984 lasted only thirty minutes despite drawing a crowd of thousands. Judi Doyle, the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade President, was threatened with violence in the weeks leading up to the 1985 march.

Photo: QVoice News.
A mid-80s Long Beach Pride march.

“There was no way we would not march. The board affirmed that, not that there wasn’t a sense of fear,” The 75-year-old activist told QVoice News. “But what came with the fear was a sense of anger…We weren’t going to be told that we need to sit in the back of the bus anymore. We will not let the community be stopped or put down anymore.”

Doyle wore a bulletproof vest to the parade.

The 1980s may have been a breaking point for queer citizens sick of putting up with homophobia, discrimination, and violence. It was also an incredibly violent decade for activists seeking change.

“During the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Long Beach Police Department was notorious for entrapping members of the LGBTQ community, particularly gay men in bars and at “cruise spots” where they frequently linked up to have sex.” The Long Beach Post states in a recent article about the monthly dance party Queer Mondays. “The Long Beach Museum of Art and the bluffs between Gaviota and Redondo avenues were among those places.”

Long Beach organizer Robert Fox created the Alamitos Beach Neighborhood Association to help prevent gay-bashings in the neighborhood. He would create groups of escorts to see bar goers safely home at night. In the mid-80s, gay bashings were a nightly occurrence. Gang violence was also at an all-time high, leading Fox to try to mandate new 30-day Just Cause notices to make sure gay tenants weren’t being thrown out simply because of their orientation. This initiative, however, backfired, causing corrupt landlords to fight back in violent ways. After dropping the initiative, however, the city began to deal with a gentrification wave that started pushing out lower-income queer residents, along with communities of color.

Today, Long Beach Pride is a destination for queer folks all over the country. Its violent roots are something we shouldn’t forget. They shouldn’t, however, detract from the incredible accomplishment that is the parade itself. In a time when queer folks couldn’t live an open, legally protected life, Long Beach created a community unlike any other.  

Related Posts

Dogdrop A Queer Owned Local Doggy Daycare

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

Dogdrop a local queer owned doggy daycare prioritizes pet wellness.  Shaina and Greer are two queer women who founded Dogdrop...

Los Angeles LGBTQ Center Receives 80K Grant

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

The Los Angeles LGBT Center received an $80,000 grant to help Californians enroll in Medi-Cal and other programs.  The grant...

SaMo Pride Announces Art Walk

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

In honor of Pride Month SaMo Pride has announced it’s art walk throughout June which will feature family friendly programming. ...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Looking For Volunteers

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

In the spirit of National Volunteer Month held in the month of April the LGBTQ Center Long Beach is seeking...

National AIDS Memorial Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award Given to Westside Local

April 11, 2021

April 11, 2021

Poet, Activist, Artist, and Westside local Ima Diawara uses her art and activism to raise greater awareness about bigotry, stigma...

Edify TV: Helping Local Cultural, Religious and LGBTQ+ Centers

April 11, 2021

April 11, 2021

Westside cultural, religious and LGBTQ+ centers stand to benefit from a new fund the City of Los Angeles has created...

Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes” Controversy

April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

Since releasing his controversially queer-positive music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” gay singer/rapper Lil Nas X has had...

West Hollywood Celebrates National Poetry Month

April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

The City of West Hollywood will celebrate National Poetry Month in April with a variety of events and exhibitions honoring...

L.A. Stage Alliance To Cease Operations After Several Companies Exit

April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (LASA) announced that it would “cease all operations” following the departure of more than 25...

James Charles Admits Messaging 16 Year Old Boys

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

YouTube star, makeup artist and Los Angeles resident James Charles issued an apology video entitled “Holding Myself Accountable” admitting to...

Trans Los Angeles A Film Full Of Queer Latinx Talent

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Trans Los Angeles is an anthology composed of four short films directed and written by transgender director Kase Peña. Each...

Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower Gets Facelift

April 1, 2021

April 1, 2021

The Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard tower gets a fresh coat of paint and a bit of a facelift just in...

Pride Poets’ Corner: Double Dutch Nymph By Féi Hernandez

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

The Pride LA and West Hollywood Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace would like to introduce Féi Hernandez featuring their latest work...

Los Angeles Becomes First No-Kill City For Animal Shelters

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

The City of Los Angeles has become a no-kill city for animal shelters for the first time, thanks to the...

Long Beach Rainbow Lifeguard Tower Burned Down

March 25, 2021

March 25, 2021

Long Beach’s rainbow lifeguard tower, painted by lifeguards in June in honor of Pride month, was destroyed in a fire...