How the J. Paul Getty Trust is Putting LGBT History on the Map

For over a decade, the J. Paul Getty Trust has been supporting SurveyLA, a citywide survey program created to identify and document historic resources representing significant themes in the city's history. Now SurveyLA is turning its attention to Los Angeles' LGBT community, as it attempts to document LGBT life and history within the city limits.

The Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust's overarching mission is to preserve, conserve, and interpret the world's artistic legacy. Through work in the Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Getty Research Institute, the Trust has a both local and global reach. SurveyLA tapped into Getty Foundation and Getty Conservation Institute funds. However, most of the foundation's current initiatives connect more closely to art history and museum preservation. (Read: Getty Trust: Los Angeles Grants).

To kick off its new LGBT effort, SurveyLA co-hosted a meeting with the Office of Historic Resources to discuss how LGBT history is represented through the development of Los Angeles. Topics of conversation included the history of the local Gay Rights Movement, modern LGBT culture in Los Angeles, and continuing challenges for the LGBT community. By sharing maps of historic LGBT locations in the city, SurveyLA hopes to tap into the knowledge of local LGBT experts and create a LGBT Historical Context Statement for the City of Los Angeles.

According to Ken Bernstein of the L.A. Office of Historic Resources, the city is constantly losing significant places and historical neighborhoods to development and change. Before SurveyLA began conducting field surveys, only about 15 percent of Los Angeles had been surveyed for potential historical preservation.

Los Angeles has had its fair share of gay liberation movements over the years, including the Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, and the Black Cat bar raid in 1967. SurveyLA focuses its attention on historical sites with pre-1980 significance, which eliminates locations associated with the AIDS crisis. Also, the survey is limited to sites within the Los Angeles city borders, so places located in West Hollywood, a major gay enclave, won’t be considered for preservation. You can expect to see the findings of this LGBT survey published by late 2016.