A vow by gay activists to disrupt the 64th annual Academy Awards ceremony failed to materialize Monday but outside the Music Center hundreds of demonstrators whistled, chanted and screamed their disapproval at what they believe is Hollywood's negative portrayal of homosexuals in films.
At least 10 people were arrested as helmeted police on foot and on horseback kept the demonstrators separated from the movie stars, studio moguls and academy members who disembarked from limousines.
Among those taken into custody were two protesters who threw objects at the red-carpeted entrance leading to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where the ceremony was held, and seven people who sat in a street crosswalk and refused orders to leave, police said.
One man, who activists said had AIDS, was wrestled to the ground and placed in plastic wrist restraints by several officers as a woman protester got on the ground and hugged him. They were both led away to a waiting police bus.
"We're out here to tell Hollywood to stop bashing us," said Rob Roberts of Queer Nation, when asked why the protests were being held. "We're telling them we don't want to see any more negative portrayals of us. We're not slashers. We're not child molesters. We don't skin women. We wanted to have some more positive images coming out of Hollywood."
Roberts said the protesters were particularly upset with such Oscar-nominated films as "The Silence of the Lambs" and "JFK."
"In 'Silence of the Lambs' they have a stereotypical character who is a misogynist who skins women," Roberts said. "In 'JFK,' they have one gay sex scene (in which) there was an orgy with a guy painted in gold lame, which I found incredibly offensive especially when all the straight sex scenes are so tender and loving."
Dozens of police officers on foot and horseback marched in unison onto Grand Avenue and, using bullhorns, ordered the gay protesters to remain on the far side of the street.
The street scene itself had the appearance of a movie.
The demonstrators, standing in the shadow of the Department of Water and Power building, chanted, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Homophobia has got to go!"
Next came the line of police, including nearly two dozen on horseback, who formed a buffer between the protesters and several dozen red-jacketed valet parking attendants who stood in a line in the middle of the street waiting for arriving limos and other cars.
Then came a number of tuxedo-clad women in white gloves who opened and shut the limo doors of arriving celebrities.
While the protesters were chanting--competing for the attention of television news cameras--the regular fans were shouting, squealing and clapping as the famous and near-famous walked past them into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
"Whoopi! Whoopi! Whoopi!" they chanted at one point, as actress Whoopi Goldberg walked past. They also screamed for the attention of Sally Field and Tom Hanks and other actors who stopped to pose for photographers.
Meanwhile, the demonstrators were backlit by the setting sun. The lighting, the crowd noise and the flow of people into the awards ceremony eventually directed attention away from them.