LAGUNA BEACH, CALIFORNIA – Coastline Pilot columnist David Hansen this week has a nice piece on Laguna Beach’s vanishing gay community. Though it would have been interesting to hear from someone under 30 in the story—Hansen chatted up Fred Karger and former city councilman Bob Gentry, who are 64 and 73, respectively—it’s still a fine portrayal of what Laguna Beach was like in a not-so-distant time ago.
Hansen captures both Karger and Gentry lamenting on gay Laguna’s demise, and both men give their reasons as to the how-and-why. Gentry traces the roots of the city’s de-gaying to the rise of HIV and AIDS, which took out a sizeable chunk of the gay population, while Karger thinks the 2007 shuttering of the Boom Boom Room—which he tried in vain to keep open (and is still trying to re-open when he’s not busy running for president)—dealt a big blow to what was once the LGBT capital of Orange County. Besides Garden Grove, but that’s a whole other history …
Here’s Karger, from Hansen’s story:
I am absolutely convinced — and I’ve tried to talk to that economic development commission when they were exploring ways to bring revenue in — and I said you should help get a second gay bar in this town,” Karger said. “And you’ll see the gay community come back, and you’ll see a lot of these stores coming back to life.
Love ya Fred, and congrats on kicking Ron Paul’s butt in the Puerto Rico primary, but Laguna’s years as a go-to gay destination are gone, and they’re never coming back.
To that, you can point at Laguna Beach’s high cost of living, which has sent younger gay potential residents and business owners moving to more renter-friendly seaside towns like Long Beach, also home to one of the largest gay pride festivals in the country.
You can point at a general assimilation trend over the past 15 years, where being gay just isn’t a big deal anymore. You can point at a generation unwilling to conform to the readymade stereotypes of what passes for gay culture—dancing to crappy boompa-boompa music in a packed bar? No, thanks, I’d rather blast some Slayer.
And you can even point at Laguna Beach city government. Back in April 1995, when some of the city’s gay and gay-friendly merchants wanted to hold a gay pride festival in town, council members Wayne Peterson and Steve Dicterow spoke out against it, with Peterson complaining that “there are people who get tired of their relatives calling from Nebraska asking, ‘How’s the gay mecca?’” while Dicterow said he didn’t want the “world” to think Laguna Beach has “only gay events.”
from The Laguna Beach Patch
Presidential Candidate Still Hopping To Bring Gays Back To Laguna Beach