Does The WeHo Mayor Think Gays and Families Don’t Mix?
Posted by Roobs on August 21, 2011
West Hollywood has been a haven for the LGBT community since its incorporation in 1984. Though it has always been identified as a pro-LGBT city and area of Los Angeles County (what I like to call the Castro of LA), it has never enjoyed an official designation. On August 18th, the West Hollywood News (aka: WeHo News) reported that the West Hollywood City Council voted to direct staff to begin looking for ways the city can begin to officially identify Santa Monica Blvd. between Doheney Dr. and La Cienega Blvd. as “Historic Boystown”.
The desire to name the strip as “Historic Boystown” has not been without controversy. First, the Lakeview neighborhood in the City of Chicago has long been known as “Boystown” before West Hollywood was even a city. The decision to identify a part of West Hollywood has spurred a debate between cities over who is the “real” boystown. But now the West Hollywood Mayor, John Duran, has added himself with a gaff to the WeHo News.
The move to name part of the city “boystown” has some in the community questioning its exclusion of lesbians. Mayor Duran stated that the move is reflected in history and demographics because the majority of the LGBT population is gay men. But in his statement, he has suggested the focus on gay men and families are mutually exclusive. Below is the section from the WeHo News that has prompted the questions of Mayor Duran.
“You have to recognize that it’s been a haven for gay men for a long time,” Mayor Duran said.
He gave Koreatown as one example of a place with a traditional usage that had no negative connotation. “And that’s what we have here,” said the gay rights advocate.
In fact, he noted that of the 35 percent of LGBT people living in West Hollywood, 90 percent of those are gay men, and that the area has traditionally catered to gay men, not families.
The quantitative data is not in question here, though actual numbers prepared for City Hall show 44% of West Hollywood’s population identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Thirty-five percent is those who identify as gay men. Perhaps another slip of the tongue by Mayor Duran to ignore the non-gay men in the city he is supposed to represent.
The real issue is over Duran’s suggestion that West Hollywood’s historic focus on gay men is exclusive and incompatible with families. Simply because West Hollywood is gay should not mean that families should be skeptical of life in this small Southern California city. Does John Duran think gay men and families should be kept separate? With the continuing struggle the LGBT population has been going through to attain equality, including with regard to families and adoption, Mayor Duran’s suggestion is a step backward.
I will admit I am a past critic on language coming from West Hollywood’s elected officials that appear to dictate what it means to be an LGBT person in West Hollywood (and Los Angeles to a larger extent). However, it is inappropriate for an elected official to make the suggestion that gay men and families are mutually exclusive. There are thousands of committed gay men in loving families with children and West Hollywood should strive to welcome them into the city, not push them away. Mayor Duran should clarify his statement to the WeHo News or retract it all together.
Roobs is a masters student at UCLA in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning with concentrations in Transportation Planning & Policy and Urban Design & Development. He has a BA in Legal Studies and Sociology from UC Berkeley. Roobs is a former Waterfront Commissioner for the City of Berkeley and former paralegal for a law firm specializing in real estate development. Roobs currently serves as Co-Chair of the California Young Democrats LGBTQ Caucus. The views expressed in this post are those of Roobs and not the official position of the California Young Democrats or the CYD LGBTQ Caucus.