From gay bars to gay rights on GG Blvd.

GAY RIGHTS demonstration. A lot has changed in the last 50 years (Flickr/Dani Oliver).

The resolution passed by the Garden Grove City Council on Tuesday night declaring June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month marked a kind of milestone in the history of the city.

As was pointed out by one speaker, Garden Grove was at one point “ground zero” of the gay culture in Orange County. A half-dozen or so nightspots and bars scattered along Garden Grove Boulevard offered a place to meet and mingle for that portion of the public.

Why did The Big Strawberry attract that clientele to its namesake street? Well, frankly, GG Boulevard was a scruffy thoroughfare then as it is in some places today. Used car lots, shopping centers without any landscaping, beer bars and, yes, gay hangouts. In the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies such places were considered by the mainstream to be unattractive as business operations and therefore rent was low, which brought in entrepreneurs seeking to cater to an unserved audience.

Garden Grove’s police targeted the bars such as DOK West, the Happy Hour, the Tiki Hut, and later, The Frat House. An ongoing undercover investigation involved sending in a young officer dressed in what was considered clothing chosen to attract attention, and make arrests when one of the patrons, uh, went too far.

The gay patrons called that harassment. The police argued that people were doing things in those places that didn’t quite square with the law. And frankly, both sides were right.

Later police chiefs decided that there were more important crime issues to worry about, and as homosexuality became increasingly accepted, the more upscale clubs and bars in other areas drew away many of the patrons which had made The Boulevard a battlefront of the second wave of the sexual revolution of the 20th century.

Election season right around the corner

Next up, of course, will be all the fireworks stands. After that, the political signs will start to spread. The process of getting signatures for nomination for public offices will start on July 16 and we’re off to the races again.

Of particular interest is the Westminster City Council. Seats held by Tyler Diep, Margie Rice and (Mayor) Tri Ta will be on the ballot. Voters appeared to have backed a measure to make the mayor’s spot a four-year rather than a two-year term. But the vote (52 percent yes, 48 percent no) is relatively tight and there are still thousands of votes yet to be tallied. If those numbers hold up and Ta decides to run this fall, he will be going for a four-year term. Otherwise, it’s back to two.

In the case of Diep, he’s running for the 72nd Assembly District seat. He is finishing second in the primary race, but is the highest performing Republican behind Democrat Josh Lowenthal. If the party comes together behind Diep, he’d be favored to win in November.

That would create an opening in the council race. The last incumbent to lose was Diana Carey. Will she seek to get that seat back this fall? We’ll see.

Usually Reliable Sources appears every other week, usually on Wednesdays.






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