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Griffith Park

4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Cruising Area
1968 today
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Digital Library Back

The park was one of L.A.’s most notorious spots for men to go and cruise for sex. John Rechy put Griffith Park on the cultural map as a cruising hotspot after his 1967 novel “Numbers” detailed a chance encounter at the famous sprawling enclave between Los Feliz and the Santa Monica Mountains. Rechy himself had been arrested in Griffith Park and faced a five-year prison sentence for soliciting sex, as he told the Los Angeles Review of Books. “The vice cops, the court, the lawyers, the judge, the unbelievable moving of the trial into the sex arena of Griffith Park so that the judge could ‘see for himself,’” all actually took place for Rechy in the days when Griffith Park was a site of anonymous sex, accompanied by the threat of a criminal charge.

Edmund White mentions that "Griffith Park is cruisy" in his 1980 book “States of Desire: Travels in Gay America.” Gay L.A. states that "wild orgies involving scores of men were common. The orgies even took place in daylight because Griffith Park had vast areas where the overgrown scrub provided a venue that was like a veritable outdoor gay bathhouse."

On Memorial Day of 1968, men and women gathered at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round to hear Mike Hannon, a policeman turned lawyer and Civil Rights activist, speak to the challenges of being gay in a homophobic society.

In 1970 and 1971, the GLF organized a series of gay-ins, three of which took place at the merry-go-round in Griffith Park. Like the parade, the purpose of these gay-ins was to encourage LGBT persons to come out of the closet and to encourage the public to accept alternative expressions of sexuality and gender. The events, which attracted thousands of people, took place during the day and included speeches, music, and dancing as well as booths that offered free legal and social services. Challenging the LAPD policy that effectively banned gays and lesbians from congregating in public was also one of the goals of the GLF, which was largely achieved by these events. The LAPD officers that policed the events only agitated the crowds. So the GLF obtained a restraining order on the basis that it was a violation of their civil rights.

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Digital Library