By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Who's gay? We're gay, honey! Totally gay! Orange County is one of the queeriest places on the planet—even without Disneyland, Laguna Beach and The O.C.! So while you're traipsing around the Long Beach Gay Pride fest next weekend and thinking about how queer-o-rific the LBC is, ponder this: history is often made when nobody else is noticing. We may not have an OC gay pride fest of our own anymore (it was canceled a few years ago for lack of interest), but that doesn't mean we're not in touch with our inner Carson Kressley. Sure, we could use a good bear bar and the lone gay bookstore is long gone, too, but there's plenty of evidence OC is the gayest place on Earth. Here's 26:
BRAVO AND EL CALOR!
Are you queer and love Spanish music but fear flocking to the county's Latin music clubs because of that whole machismo madness? Drop your stereotypes and visit El Calor and Bravo, two Anaheim Latin dance floors celebrated throughout the county's Latino queer community for its welcoming environs and caliente tunes. Entrepreneur Jeff Adger owns both clubs, so the music spun at each doesn't really vary—a bit of rock en español here, annoying electronica there, and blazing tropical music throughout. But the boys are cute, the women wonderful, and the drinks affordable. The only true quibble with El Calor and Bravo is the lack of Mexican regional music—there are queer couples out there, Jeff, that like to hold each other close when they dance, ¿que no? Bravo, 1490 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 533-2291; El Calor, 2916 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 527-8873.
THE CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL!
Designed by renowned gay architect Philip Johnson, who not long after its 1980 opening dubbed Robert Schuller's made-for-TV church "a big studio."
After a five-month voyage in 1835 from Boston around Cape Horn, Richard Henry Dana, a strapping young 19-year-old Harvard student, arrives aboard the trade ship Pilgrim in what is now known as Dana Point. In Two Years Before the Mast, Dana's journal of the adventure, he describes his friend Bill Jackson as a "fine specimen of manly beauty" and admits having "affection" for another shipmate, a young Hawaiian named Hope. Hmmm . . . five months at sea with no women around . . . a shipful of burly seamen . . .
GAY LATINO HAIRDRESSERS!
Okay, so most Mexican men hate jotos—no surprise there, unfortunately. But the one public place where a macho has no problem with a gay man is at your local peluquería (barbershop). We still have fond memories of Mari, a short, stocky man who permed his platinum-blond hair constantly and wore Daisy Duke shorts from December to December. His real name was Mario, but all the men who went to get their hair cut at a barber shop on Fourth Street in Santa Ana called him Mari—even my father, who once forbade us to enter a swimming pool after he found out that my sister's gay classmate had swam in it. I don't know where Mari works anymore, but I remember him as one of the few instances that my father dropped his bullshit and was human. And that barber shop? Closed long ago, but Fourth Street still remains a haven for queer hairdressers.
Photo by Davis Barber
This is Orange County's Stonewall, but with ballot boxes instead of police batons. Like Stonewall, our story begins on a sultry summer night, this one in July 1988, and not in a hot, hot gay club, but in the starched-shirt council chambers of the city of Irvine, where Mayor Larry Agran led the Irvine City Council majority to extend civil-rights protections to the city's gays and lesbians. It seemed an obvious move: next door, Laguna Beach had already set the bar for gay-friendliness; Irvine is a college town and home to some 1,000 multinational corporations. But banning discrimination based on sexual orientation turned out to be the tipping point in a city that, though 4-1 Republican, had dependably elected Democrat Agran in every municipal race since 1978. As the June 1990 Election Day approached, phobes banged loudly the drums of war. The Reverend Lou Sheldon came to town, telling the Los Angeles Times that Agran's position on homosexuality was "a test of where the community stands on this issue. This issue hits a central nerve on the future of the heterosexual ethic in Orange County. And it will help determine whether we accept homosexuality as a viable lifestyle." In hit pieces delivered to doorsteps and snapped under windshield wipers on cars outside houses of God, the phobes described the one aspect of homosexuality that truly seemed to intrigue them: butt sex. Agran lost the race because "he'd lost touch with our community," said the woman who beat him. Like Jesus—good and Jewish, but educated at Harvard Law—he disappeared into the wilderness, emerging once to run for president (of the United States, in 1992; he lost) and then more recently for City Council (he won). And now he's the mayor again, and though we have our differences with him sometimes, we honor him still for his heroics. And Mike Shea, the guy who led the Irvine Values Coalition's war against Agran? He left his wife shortly afterward to take up with a newer model in West Hollywood. West Hollywood. We're just saying.DAVID! Michelangelo Buonarroti (like Madonna and Cher, we know him today on a first-name-only basis) was a gay Italian who carved his sexual desires in stone. Take David, his most homo-rific, full-frontaled creation, which academians have theorized was modeled on a young male quarryman ol' Mikey was shtupping at the time. Completed in 1504, the statue has been copied many times, and one has an intriguing OC history. In 1939, Puritan bluehairs were so offended by Dave's huge exposed package on a statue at Forest Lawn Cypress that they had his marble member covered with a plaster fig leaf, where it would remain until 1969. David stood fully exposed until the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, when it was toppled and broken into pieces. Forest Lawn donated David's remains to Cal State Fullerton in 1989, where the crumbled parts were spread out—in a sort of man-is-breakable-but-his-spirit-isn't art statement—across a patch of grass northeast of the campus library. It's been there ever since, though you can't ogle at his once-controversial pecker. Fearing students would do "inappropriate" things to Dave's dong, they had that particular section buried ass-side up. Still, this hasn't stopped many a scholar—straight male ones, even!—from rubbing and kissing Dave's colossal rump for good luck.