L.A.: A Queer History sheds lights on the underusing trailblazers of the L.A. LGBTQ community. (ONE Archives)
The beginning of 20th century history related to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual & Transgender (LGBTQ) rights movement in the United States has been linked to the Stonewall Riots in New York City. In 1969, members of the LGBTQ community in NYC rose in a series of spontaneous and sometimes violent demonstrations against the police who would often raid the Stonewall Inn, a gathering place for the most marginalized members of this community.
Little do people know that prior to the Stonewall Riots event an underground LGBTQ movement existed in Los Angeles, which is now detailed in a new documentary, L.A.: A Queer History by writer/director Gregorio Davila and producers Mario J. Novoa and Richard Xavier Corral. The film includes interviews with over 30 early trailblazers of this community.
In this historic project that chronicles these unsung heroes, viewers meet an 83-year-old butch Chicana lesbian from East L.A., Nancy Valverde; Reverend Troy Perry; legendary activist and author Jeanne Cordova; and Los Angeles LGBT Center co-founder John Platania amongst others. Also shown are the male and female impersonators who appeared on the vaudeville stage of the Orpheum Theatre in the early 1900s as well as ONE magazine which was started in 1953 as a “magazine for homosexuals.”
In order to complete the L.A.: A Queer History documentary, a fundraising event is taking place on June 7 at the Montalban in Hollywood in partnership with Christopher Street West (L.A. Pride) as the kickoff party for the 2015 Pride festivities and includes screenings of rarely seen short films from local LGBTQ filmmakers.
The event begins with a pre-program VIP cocktail mixer that allows ticket holders to mingle with the filmmakers and some of the historical figures from L.A.: A Queer History, including Rev. Perry, Cordova, Alexei Romanoff, David Ehrenstein and artist Don Bachardy just to name a few. After the screening there is a Q&A session with Davila and some of the legendary activists, as well as an after party in the theater with access to the rooftop deck.
In 2015 the city of West Hollywood is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its incorporation with events throughout the months of May and June highlighting themes of the city’s past, present and future. Its crown jewel event, the L.A. Pride parade (Christopher Street West), which is the longest running Gay Pride Parade (45 years), and festival is on June 13. With people arriving from all over the world to take part in these tremendous celebrations of the LGBTQ community in the L.A. area, how befitting it is to have in our hands a chance to contribute to the completion of L.A.: A Queer History in order to leave it for posterity!
To purchase tickets for the 2015 Pride Gala and Film Showcase on June 7, visit themontalban.com. For more information on the documentary, visit laaqueerhistory.com.