West Hollywood's growing divide highlighted in Tuesday's council election

Mon. March 7, 2011 4:57 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

Los Angeles, CA - Famous for its gay residents and nightlife, West Hollywood is facing what the New York Times described as an "uncommonly bitter election" as the village struggles with increased gentrification, a topic being played out in the upcoming City Council election.

Six gay candidates in Tuesday's City Council election are running on platforms of concern over development and rising property costs pushing out younger gay residents, thus changing the city's unique population.

Gentrification of gay neighborhoods is not uncommon nationwide, from New York City to Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, younger gay men and lesbians are locating less-expensive areas to live.

"In every city I've been to, I hear people say, ‘I wish this neighborhood was what it used to be,' " Don Reuter, the author of the book "Greetings from the Gayborhood" told the New York Times. "But at the same time, the gay community was asking for acceptance, and what they've gotten is acceptance."

West Hollywood, which was founded over 26 years ago by gay activists, differs from the other gay neighborhoods because it's a city with 35,000 residents - estimated to be 40% gay.

Nine candidates are running for City Council, three candidates will be elected. Residents on Tuesday will decide the city's direction and whether WeHo can remain a safe place for all.

"There has been a shift in cultural values in the gay community," John Duran, a councilman who is not up for re-election told the Times. "Marriage by its nature is a conservative institution, which often brings children and monogamous relationships. But there are still glittering gay drag queens and pool-playing lesbians in this community. I'm hoping there is enough room in graying West Hollywood for both."