West Hollywood’s Studio One was a haven for gays — but only if they were white and male
To the editor: Ann Friedman woefully misrepresented Studio One, the location of which in West Hollywood may be demolished. (“Should we preserve ugly but important buildings — like the former Studio One in West Hollywood?” Opinion, July 27)
For most gay men living outside West Hollywood, it represented bigotry, racism and sexism. Scott Forbes, its owner, wanted to limit the number of gay men of color and women. His doormen used every racist excuse possible to keep black gay men out, requiring two or three pieces of photo ID from African Americans and none or one piece from white men. To limit the number of women, excuses were made up on the spot based on what they were wearing, like no open-toe shoes.
Rather than being a beacon of pride, countless gay community protests were held there. For most conscious gay and lesbian people of that period, Studio One stood for racist discrimination and white male privilege.
Don Kilhefner, Los Angeles
To the editor: As a regular at the raucous Studio One in the late 1970s, it is hard to imagine how to recapture the vibrant spirit of the place and times. As young gay men, we were the shock troops of “gay liberation,” and Studio One was ground zero.
However treasured our distant memories, I am not sure if nostalgia is a credible basis for designating the otherwise unremarkable site a cultural resource. While I think the current compromise provides recognition for the site’s history, I have concerns that the move to preserve the building, however well meaning, is a distraction to greater problems facing West Hollywood.
Like other neighborhoods, our unique community is under siege, blighted by ill-conceived developments and “hipsterfication.” Preserving Studio One is another step toward turning West Hollywood into a gay Williamsburg, a rainbow-spangled theme park. I don’t want to live in a gay petting zoo.
I don’t see this proposal as a meaningful solution to preserve West Hollywood’s bohemian character.
Steve Martin, West Hollywood
The writer is a former member of the West Hollywood City Council.
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