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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Part 3 of Gay L.A.

Part 3 of this week’s reading really gave a lot of insight into the continued activism of the LGBT community. The first part was particularly interesting because it talked a lot more about the different intersecting identities within the LGBT spectrum. One example was the more in depth history of the Metropolitan Community Church from part 2. This was interesting to me because I come from a Christian background. It was heartwarming to learn that this church was established by and for members of the gay community and they were welcoming of people that weren’t gay Christians.

The book also gave a more intensive spotlight for gay people of color than part 2. It was mentioned that gay people of color often felt excluded by predominately white organizations at large. Or, they felt that they had to tone down their identities as people of color to be accepted by their white counterparts. So in effect, gay people of color had to carve out spaces of their own. This is still an issue that we see today in LGBT communities where often gay people of color still feel excluded from the conversation or the movement. However, there are more initiatives today that make community spaces more accessible and inclusive of gay people of color. The QTPOC discussion spaces and QTPOC conferences promoted at the UCLA LGBT Center are some examples. In addition, I think the discourse has changed through the years to become more inclusive of the whole LGBTQ acronym.

The AIDS epidemic was another obstacle for the LGBT community largely because it felt very centered on the gay community. Suddenly the world wanted nothing to do with gay people again: businesses declined, health concerns were target towards gay men, and people did not want to frequent spaces where gay people went. The world was terrified from the unprecedented disease and their reactions were out of terror. However, gay people once again rose up in the face of this obstacle. ACT UP/LA was a great start in organizing for public health care for individuals with AIDS. One quote that stuck with me was:

Despite the horrors of the plague, gay progress did not cease. L.A. saw a mass exit from the closet of those who were infected ("mainly because they had nothing to lose:' the writer David Ehrenstein noted).68 Widespread spread homophobia was much less possible once it became clear to heterosexuals erosexuals that beloved friends and relatives were gay and needed help in their fight against AIDS.

It really demonstrates the community effort it took to overcome the stigma behind AIDS and to finally get help for people who need it. In the larger picture, this moment helped increase the solidarity within the LGBT community, where they were once extremely divided by race, class, and gender differences.

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