June 30, 2022 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

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...

Homeless Initiative Meeting In West Hollywood

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood’s Homeless Initiative works to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. It’s estimated that...

WeHo Premieres the ‘Moving Image Media Art’ Exhibition Series

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood announces the premiere of the Moving Image Media Art (MIMA) program and the worldwide debut...

LA Street Will Potentially Be Named After Anti-LGBTQ Singer

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A portion of Bailey Street may be renamed to the late Mexican Mariachi singer ” Vicente Fernandez Street’ – a...

WeHo Spreads Word About Free Covid Testing

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood is reminding residents that free COVID-19 testing is available for them.  Demand for COVID-19 testing...

Green Qween New Queer-Owned Cannabis Shop Will Open Downtown

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

Green Qween, a new queer-owned and queer-driven cannabis shop, will open in downtown on April 20th.  The shops owners, Andrés...

2022 ‘WeHo Reads’ Series Celebrates the ‘Road to Joy’

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to celebrate literature and local authors with its 2022 WeHo Reads literary...

New CA Law Helps With Transgender Deadnames

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

A new California law requires public colleges to update diplomas and records for transgender students who have changed their names....

MJ Rodriguez, 1st Openly Transgender Actress to Win Golden Globe

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Michaela Jae “MJ” Rodriguez has made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to win a Golden Globe.  The...

Animal Shelter Donations In Honor Of Betty White

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Animal shelter donations have increased exponentially in honor of late actress gay icon and animal lover Betty White. Over the...

AIDS/LifeCycle 2022 Needs More Volunteers

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

AIDS LifeCycle is back with more than $4 million raised so far for the 2022 ride benefitting the HIV/AIDS-related services...

Long Beach Named One of the Best LGBTQ Cities

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

For the 10th year in a row Long Beach has been named one of the best cities in the nation...

Gay Wedding At Dodger Stadium

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Eric Braverman and Jonathan Cottrell will exchange vows at Dodger Stadium. Showing the progress the LA Dodgers have made as...

LGBTQ Haven in Long Beach

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Long Beach is quickly becoming more and more of a safe haven for LGBTQ individuals with its queer spaces exploding...