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Pride in the Face of Adversity: How the Herald Examiner Covered the LGBT Community in Los Angeles

Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection,
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As a mainstream news outlet in the 20th Century, it's probably not surprising that the Los Angeles Herald Express (later Herald Examiner) newspaper gave little coverage to the LGBT community. The Herald's image archive, now maintained at the Los Angeles Public Library, seemingly reflected the newspaper's attitude towards the city's LGBT residents which in turn was more than likely a reflection of popular views at the time. 

Photos relating to the LGBT community are almost non-existent in the Herald collection prior to the 1970s. The few that have turned up focus exclusively on men being held in jail after having been arrested for "masquerading" in women's clothing with terms like "fairies" written on the back of the photos in grease pencil.  As public activism increased in the 1970s and 1980s, so did stories relating to issues and events. However, handwritten derogatory comments continued to appear on backs of photos and negative envelopes depicting Gay Pride parades, AIDS awareness, and other fights for equal rights. 

What's striking about the LGBT photos in the Herald collection is that in the face of constant adversity during the decades, the people depicted in them universally display pride, confidence, and a sense of self, whether they're behind bars, marching in a parade, or in court fight for marriage equality (in 1979). In celebration of LGBT Month, here is a sampling of images from LAPL's Herald Examiner Collection.   

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Photograph caption dated May 14, 1946 reads, "Franke Goode, 17, left; Francis J. Socwell, 18. A couple of 'girls' who landed behind bars." 

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Men dressed as women are shown being held in jail after being picked up at an unidentified Halloween event at 3rd Street and Main in downtown Los Angeles. Photograph dated November 1, 1949. 

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Photograph caption dated January 27, 1950 reads, "Masculine jail clothing was substituted for feminine attire worn by these three youths after they were nabbed early today. They said they had been employed as female domestic servants in fashionable Wilshire district. Physical examination by police showed that 'Tisha Porter' actually is Queque Malpress, 19; 'Rita Porter' is Frank Porter, 21, and 'Mary Lee Porter' is Willie Moore, 21 (left to right)."

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Photograph dated June 13, 1977 show some of the thousands who participated in a demonstration at Hollywood High in opposition to the "Save Our Children" campaign, spearheaded by singer Anita Bryant who sought to repeal a local ordinance in Dade County, Florida, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Photo by Mike Sergieff) 

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A group of gay rights demonstrators march past the First African Methodist Church. Photograph dated August 20, 1977. (Photo by Lawrence Downing)

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Photograph caption dated July 3, 1978 reads, "Members of Los Angeles gay community march down Hollywood Boulevard July 2, 1978 to protest a proposed ban on homosexual teachers." The Briggs Initiative, also known as, California Proposition 6, was on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978. Named for its sponsor, John Briggs, the initiative was designed to ban gays and lesbians from working in California's public schools. 

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Photograph dated March 15, 1979 shows from left, attorney David M. Brown, plaintiffs, Anthony Corbett Sullivan, Richard Frank Adams. Adams a US citizen and Sullivan an Australian citizen were issued a marriage license in Boulder Colorado and were married in Boulder. When Sullivan applied for a spouse visa in Los Angeles in November 1975, the District Director of Immigration and Naturalization Service stated 'You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots." (Photo by Rob Brown)

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Grand Marshall Martha Raye at the 1982 Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. (Photo by Anne Knudsen)

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Photograph caption dated May 27, 1983 reads, "Some of the 5,000 people who rallied at Westwood Federal Building in support of more AIDS research funds." (Photo by Paul Chinn)

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Photograph dated October 19, 1983 shows members of Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos sit together in the organization's offices. From left to right, Geneva Vega, Andrea and Laura Esquivel, and Rolando Plencia. Laura Esquivel became the first female president of Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos in Los Angeles in 1984. She went on to found two organizations, Lesbianas Unidas and LLEGÓ, the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization. (Photo by Mike Sergieff)

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Photograph caption dated July 29, 1985 reads, "Those embarking on walk to raise funds for AIDS research and treatment leave Paramount Studios, above. One participant shows support for victim Rock Hudson." (Photo by Paul Chinn)

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Photograph caption dated October 21, 1985 reads, "Morale Booster: Protesters march outside the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Los Angeles yesterday to show support for Marine Sgt. Rolf Lindblom, who is seeking an honorable discharge because he is gay. Lindblom, a five-year veteran, has two years remaining on his enlistment. The 25-year-old Lindblom earlier was named Marine of the Year in Los Angeles."  (Photo by James Reubsmen)

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Photograph dated October 21, 1985 shows Lee Meriwether, Mike Farrell, Robert Foxworth, Ed Asner, Margot Kidder and Robert Walden who were participants in the fifth annual awards ceremony held by the Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Artists in the Entertainment Industry at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. (Photo by James Reubsmen)

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Photo dated June 29, 1987 shows a group of gay fathers marching down Santa Monica Boulevard carrying balloons and waving to spectators at the 17th annual Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. AIDS awareness was heightened this year adding a bittersweet note to the otherwise festive parade, which sponsors said was their "largest turnout ever."  (Photo by Mike Mullen) 

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West Hollywood Mayor Helen Albert (left), officially opens the Gay Pride Festival. At right is West Hollywood Council member Abbe Lande, June 25, 1988. (Photo by James Reubsmen)

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Two customers stop at the "Condom Carry'N Critters" booth at the Gay Pride Festival in West Hollywood, June 25, 1988. (Photo by James Reubsmen)

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The Athletic Club float rolls down Santa Monica Boulevard during the Annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, June 27, 1988. (Photo by Paul Chinn)

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A small but vocal group of homosexual-rights advocates held a demonstration in front of the Orange County Board of Supervisors office to protest the rejection of a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance for AIDS infected persons. The demonstrators angrily turned on Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, whom they blame for engineering a defeat of the proposed legislation. Photograph dated June 20, 1989. (Photo by Javier Mendoza)

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A small but vocal group of homosexual-rights advocates held a demonstration in front of the Orange County Board of Supervisors office to protest the rejection of a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance for AIDS infected persons. Robert Robinson, left, of Irvine and David Armedariz of Huntington Beach embrace during the rally. Photograph dated June 20, 1989. (Photo by Javier Mendoza)

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A proud mom raises a salute to her gay son at the Gay Parade and Festival, which attracted many parents as supporters, June 26, 1989. (Photo by Steve Grayson)


 

 

 

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