Officials this week removed the last traffic signs from a Los Angeles neighborhood to cleanse the area of its anti-gay past.

The signs that read “No cruising. No U-turns. Midnight to 6 am” were posted around the Silver Lake neighborhood in 1997, with the intent to curb gay men from roaming the streets to hook up, The Los Angeles Times reported. 

Just in time for PRIDE month, the signs were retired this week.

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Los Angeles skyline at night

A glowing sky provides a colorful backdrop to the downtown Los Angeles skyline as seen from Boyle Heights on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Los Angeles has a rich history of welcoming the LGBTQIA+ community, but there has also been real and present homophobia — which at times has been inscribed into the city’s physical spaces, as with these no-U-turn signs,” Councilmember Nithya Raman said in a statement. 

In the late 90s, gay men sometimes relied on printed guidebooks that listed public areas where they could find love, sex and community without outing themselves. Silver Lake’s Griffith Park Boulevard was one of the areas listed, as well as West Hollywood. 

“This type of homophobia persisted in Silver Lake 30 years after the Black Cat protests, and the physical remnants of that bigotry remained on our streets until yesterday, when we joined @nithyavraman to finally take the signs down,” Councilman Higo Soto-Martinez wrote Tuesday on X, referring to one of the first demonstrations in the U.S. protesting police brutality against LGBT people, which preceded the Stonewall riots in New York City. 

He said the signs were used to target and persecute the LGBTQ+ community.

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U-Turn sign in Los Angeles

A U-Turn sign on Griffith Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood.  (Google Maps)

“I was unaware of those signs and never would have found [them],” said Pickle, West Hollywood’s inaugural drag queen laureate.

The first “No Cruising” signs were taken down in 2011 after a vote by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. The remaining “No U-turn” and others listing time restrictions were left standing and nearly forgotten.

Silver Lake resident Donovan Daughtry raised the issue after hearing a podcast episode on the neighborhood’s queer history, according to the councilmembers.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, cityscape illuminated at dusk viewed from above, long exposure. (iStock)

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“People driving around at night with the radios playing Madonna was probably not conducive to a quiet neighborhood like Silver Lake and the rowdiness inside the bars sometimes spilled outside,” Albert LeBarron, co-owner of Akbar, a gay bar, told the Times. “But in all honesty, a lot of us are people walking or driving or kind of hanging out because they had nowhere else to go.”



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