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Los Angeles doesn’t scream queerness in quite the same way that celebrated meccas like New York and San Francisco do, but America’s second largest city boasts numerous queer bars and LGBTQ-owned establishments throughout its endless sprawl and has a vibrant queer history. Here are some hidden highlights:

RELATED: Click here to book LGBTQIA-welcoming hotels and plan your next gaycation using travel tips and advice.

Silver Lake, Los Angeles, LGBTQ

Silver Lake | Flickr photo by Doug Kerr

  1. Stonewall may have marked the beginning of the modern fight for LGBTQ rights, but both San Francisco (Compton’s Cafeteria riot in 1966) and L.A. beat it to the punch. On January 1, 1967, police raided the Black Cat bar in the Silver Lake neighborhood and started beating patrons. A riot ensued and led to a protest the following month that attracted 300-500 people. Now a gastropub, the Black Cat Bar and Tavern still attracts LGBTQ folk and black-and-white photos commemorate the 1967 protests.
Bar Mattachine, LGBTQ, Los Angeles, DTLA

Bar Mattachine | Photo by Jason Heidemann

  1. The Mattachine Society of Los Angeles wasn’t the first homophile organization, but it was perhaps the most enduring. Formed in 1950 it lasted until the early ‘60s and is considered the first LGBTQ rights org of lasting consequence. In 2015, cocktail lounge Bar Mattachine opened as an upscale queer cocktail lounge with a name aimed at paying tribute to the enduring org. Sadly, it closed in 2018.
Modern Family, LGBTQ, Los Angeles

Mitch and Cam’s home in “Modern Family” | Photo by Jason Heidemann

  1. Want to see where your favorite queer TV characters live? The location of the Pfefferman home from the show Transparent is at 919 La Loma Rd in Pasadena, while ex-wife Shelly’s condo is at 690 Harbor St in Venice. Meanwhile, the filming location for Modern Family couple Mitch and Cam is at 2211 Fox Hills Drive in Culver City (but try not to linger too long).
DTLA, LGBTQ, Los Angeles, DTLA Proud

DTLA Proud | Photo by Jason Heidemann

  1. Looking to expand your Pride possibilities? Downtown Los Angeles is in the middle of an artistic and cultural renaissance that has brought numerous new queer owned and operated establishments (New Jalisco, Redline, Precinct, etc.) to the ‘hood and even DTLA Pride, a block party organized by DTLA Proud that made its inaugural debut in 2016 and happens in August.
Mattachine Steps, Silver Lake, LGBTQ, Los Angeles

The Mattachine Steps | Photo by Jason Heidemann

  1. Who says nobody walks in L.A.? Truth be told, the most precipitous roads and walking paths are often traversed by fitness fanatics and that includes the Cove Avenue staircase in Silver Lake. Mattachine Society founder Harry Hay lived adjacent to the steps in the early ‘50s; since 2012 the stairs have been called the Mattachine Steps. Check them out at 2355 Cove Ave!
WeHo, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, LGBTQ

A costumed reveler | Flickr photo by dvsross

  1. If you think a twerking twink is scary, try visiting West Hollywood on October 31 for its annual WeHo Halloween Carnaval. This debaucherous nighttime street fest happens on Santa Monica Boulevard and attracts more than a half million revelers, many of whom are scantily clad or in full costume. Leave the kids at home and be prepared for really big crowds.
The PickUp, WeHo, Los Angeles

The PickUp | Photo courtesy of Francisco Gomez

  1. Are Southern Californians really allergic to mass transit? Maybe, but there’s one bus LGBTQ Angelenos love and that’s the free trolley called the PickUp (lol) that travels up and down Santa Monica Boulevard every weekend for nightlife seekers to hop on/hop off at their favorite queer bars and not have to worry about drinking and driving. There’s even a Trolley Tracker app!
  1. Looking for the One? Try checking out the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California campus (future home to the Lucas Museum!). These archives are the world’s largest research library created for the purpose of studying LGBTQ history. Not into books? The archives also offer art exhibitions and movie screenings.
Abbey, WeHo, Los Angeles, LGBTQ

The Abbey opened in 1991 as a café | Flickr photo by Ed and Eddie

  1.  Surely, you know the Abbey, the church-themed WeHo bar, nightclub and brunch hot spot, but how well do you actually know the Abbey? For example, did you know that when it opened its doors in 1991 it was actually across the street from where it is now in the location of a former dry cleaners? It was also a coffee shop (a liquor license wasn’t added until 1996).  A celebrity fave, it’s also where Elizabeth Taylor made her last public appearance.
L.A. Pride, WeHo, California, gay, LGBTQ

Los Angeles Pride in West Hollywood | Flickr photo by dvsross

  1. Did you know that L.A. Pride, which began in 1970, was the world’s first permitted Pride parade? It continues to march annually every June down Santa Monica Boulevard in WeHo, but unlike in San Francisco and New York, L.A. Pride happens mid-month. In 2017, a parade was shelved in favor of a mass protest against the Trump Administration.

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Tagged: Los Angeles

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

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