July 25, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY LA: Judy Never Really Left Los Angeles

How the queer Icon has shaped L.A.

There’s no doubt about it: 2019 is the year of Judy Garland. In L.A. terms, anyway. Not only did this year gift us Rupert Goold’s “Judy” featuring a star turn by Renee Zellwegger, we were also made privvy to some of Sid Luft’s (aka the third Mr. Garland’s) archives, exposing us to a whole new world of vintage Judy. It’s no secret that the longtime queer icon, forced into a barbituate habit at the tender age of thirteen by the MGM studio system, has always been beloved in Los Angeles. Hell, she was one of the Dream Factory’s most enduring symbols. But she was something more than a product of Hollywood’s golden age. 

For decades, Garland made her mark on the world by standing apart from the rest. She wasn’t forced into traditional roles because she wasn’t traditional in any sense. Her beauty was different, and so was her vulnerability. When she sang songs like “The Boy Next Door” or “In Between,” gays heard what she was saying. Behind the lyrics, Garland was singing a song of pain to all the outsiders who weren’t able to see themselves in mainstream Hollywood stories. Though the rumor that Garland’s London funeral sparked the Stonewall Riots has been long since squashed, there’s an emotional truth to the story. For so long, Garland felt like the only gay representation there was. And not just in Hollywood, but all of America. 

Though her relationship with L.A., with Hollywood, and with the star system itself was complex, she owed a lot to the town that defied her. She and the family act moved from Michigan to California when Garland was only four years old. Her ashes were moved from Westchester to L.A. only a few years ago to be closer to the family plot in Hollywood. She and her mother even owned a flower shop on Miracle Mile at one point. Garland’s legacy can be found all in bits and pieces all over Southern California, from the Walk of Fame star on Vine to the handprints at Grauman’s to the palladium at Hollywood Forever cemetery. When it comes to her status as queer icon, it’s impossible to overrate her influence. As someone who embodied a kind of ecstatic relationship to suffering, Judy was an instant attraction for gay audiences even before the word “gay” was mainstream. 

“Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering,” wrote “Princess Bride” author William Goldman after seeing Garland’s famous concert at the Palace, “they are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland. She’s been through the fire and lived – all the drinking and divorcing, all the pills and all the men, all the poundage come and gone – brothers and sisters, she knows.”

Singer Rufus Wainwright has made no secret of his fondness for the queer icon. 

“My theory about ‘Judy and the Gays,’” he told Vanity Fair in 2011, “is that what made her attractive was not her beauty. She had this magnetism, but it had nothing to do with statuesque features. It was just about this really unusual personality.” 

That unusual personality is finally getting its due in the modern age, as the legacy of “Judy and the Gays” continues.

Related Posts

Cinespia Announces Additional Special Screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

July 19, 2024

July 19, 2024

Featuring Tributes to Paul Reubens and Shelly Duvall and Annual Screenings Cinespia, the popular cinematic experience presented by Amazon MGM...

Viral Tweet Spurs Screening of Michael Mann’s Miami Vice at the Lumiere Cinema in Beverly Hills

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

Independent Theater to Showcase 2006 Film on July 13 Following Online Debate By Dolores Quintana Following an unexpected turn of...

Santa Monica Artist Dave Quick’s “Return from the Burn” Exhibition to Open at Bergamot’s Lois Lambert Gallery

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

Pre-Burning Man Showcase Features Kinetic Art and Sculptures Coated with Playa Dust, Opens July 13 With upwards of 80,000 attendees,...

Film Review: MaXXXine

July 4, 2024

July 4, 2024

By Dolores Quintana MaXXXine, the third installment in Ti West’s X film series, could potentially be the finale. However, writer...

Celebrate Queer Cinema at the Egyptian Theater’s Hollywood Pride Series June 25-27

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Experience Nearly a Century of LGBTQ+ Representation on the Silver Screen The Egyptian Theater is set to host “Hollywood Pride:...

Film Review: Longlegs

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

By Dolores Quintana Longlegs is pure poetic eldritch terror. From the very beginning, director Osgood Perkins uses the actors’ performances,...

Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival Returns to Lumiere Cinema in Beverly Hills

May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024

A Weekend of Horror, and Cult Classics With Exclusive Q&A Sessions The Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival is set to return to...

Slamdance Film Festival Makes Bold Move to Los Angeles in 2025

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

Leading Independent Film Festival Leaves Park City, Utah Slamdance, known for its artist-led ethos of “by filmmakers for filmmakers,” has...

UC Faculty Members Across the State Demand Action Following Campus Violence

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

Faculty and Staff Sign Letter Demanding Justice Following Brutal Attacks at UCLA By Dolores Quintana 1000 members of the University...

Film Review: Down Low

July 30, 2023

July 30, 2023

FILM REVIEWDOWN LOWRated R90 MinutesReleased March 11, 2023 By Dolores Quintana “Down Low” is funny. It’s a lean 90 minutes...

Film Review: The People’s Joker

July 23, 2023

July 23, 2023

FILM REVIEWThe People’s JokerUnrated92 MinutesReleased September 13, 2022 (Toronto Film Festival) By Dolores Quintana “The People’s Joker” is a heartfelt...

Skin Laundry Laser Focuses On Rejuvenating Skin

July 12, 2023

July 12, 2023

Facials don’t have to be invasive. That’s why Skin Laundry has taken a revolutionary approach to skincare technology, making the...

The Problem with Pride Outfits and How You Can Change It

February 20, 2023

February 20, 2023

Since pride month’s official declaration in 1999, we’re reminded every June of how far America has come following New York...

Happening Now: West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ Arts Festival

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

By Susan Payne Happening now through the end of June, WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival celebrates the artistic contributions of...

California Trans Child Molester Gets 2 Years In Juvenile Facility

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A Los Angeles County judge ordered Hannah Tubbs, a transgender California woman, to serve two years in a juvenile facility...