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A Relic of Los Angeles’s Anti-L.G.B.T.Q. Past Comes Down

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The strange “no U-turn” signs along Griffith Park Boulevard in Silver Lake were erected in the 1990s to ward off gay men.


Los Angeles City Council members removed a sign in Silver Lake on Monday.Credit…Fox11

For many Angelenos, the road signs that have been posted in the Silver Lake neighborhood over the last two decades forbidding U-turns from midnight to 6 a.m. were just another example of the city’s seemingly arbitrary and extremely specific traffic regulations.

But to longtime members of the area’s L.G.B.T.Q. community, they were something more: vestiges of a painful not-so-distant past when Los Angeles’s queer spaces were targeted rather than celebrated.

After two years of planning, the last of the signs on Griffith Park Boulevard were removed last week. The occasion was marked with coffee, guava and cheese pastries and performances by two local drag queens.

The “No U-turn” signs were posted in 1997 in response to residents’ complaints that the boulevard had become a hot spot for gay men looking for sex partners. There were nine of the signs on Griffith Park Boulevard, as well as “No Cruising” signs on nearby Hyperion Avenue. (Cruising in Los Angeles has long had multiple meanings.)

The signs soon prompted complaints about discriminatory and homophobic police crackdowns in the area. Some gay men accused undercover vice officers of entrapment.

Local activists persuaded city officials to take down the “No Cruising” signs in 2011, but the signs banning U-turns at specific hours remained posted until this year.

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