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Silver Lake Stairway to be Renamed to Honor Gay Activist Harry Hay


The long Cove Avenue Stairway in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles sits adjacent to the location of the first meetings of the early gay rights organization Mattachine Society at the home of pioneering gay activist Harry Hay. The stairs will be renamed to honor Hay and a plaque will be installed at the site following a meeting of the local community board, according to Eastsider LA.

"The motion was adopted unanimously by the Governing Board" at Wednesday night's meeting.

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  1. Is this the stairs used for a classic Laurel & Hardy film back in the silent era? ("The Music Box") Their famous piano moving scene was filmed there. If so, there's a plaque commemorating that, and I hope that's not removed in some misguided effort to "re-brand" the stairs. Though not officially, the stairs have been known in L.A. as The Music Box Steps for over 75 years - and even as a gay activist myself, I object to any such re-branding of the steps.

    If these are some different epic steps in Silverlake ... um, nevermind.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 2, 2011 1:35:03 PM

  2. Once again my own profound ignorance on Harry Hay shocks and shames me.
    Time to catch up......

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jun 2, 2011 1:43:04 PM

  3. Agreed, Zlick, but, my thought was a bit more, Curly Howard and a block of ice.....!

    Posted by: Jeff | Jun 2, 2011 1:45:21 PM

  4. A man ahead of his time, surely. I support the honorific.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jun 2, 2011 1:51:30 PM

  5. And sorry, but "sits adjacent to" a place where the Mattachine Society met? WTF? How does that make the steps have anything to do with it? I'd rather the steps be known as The Three Stooges Steps if one of their scenes was filmed ON the steps. But I guess this "official" name will be as unsuccessful as most other re-naming attempts of places that already have popular names. Sheesh.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 2, 2011 1:58:16 PM

  6. Those aren't the Music Box Steps. The Music Box Steps have buildings on either side... so no need to get in an uproar.

    Posted by: unruly | Jun 2, 2011 2:44:42 PM

  7. I had no idea Towleroad was populated by so many silent film fans.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jun 2, 2011 2:56:35 PM

  8. Thanks, Unruly. I repeat my earlier "nevermind."

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 2, 2011 3:11:07 PM

  9. Silver Lake's stairways are lovely places and I think this is a warm and fitting tribute. I'll climb this stairway with pride next time.

    Posted by: Trev | Jun 2, 2011 4:08:34 PM

  10. These are on the other side of the lake from the Music Box steps (near Sunset/Vendome). The stairway streets of Los Angeles are really one of the underappreciated beauties of the city, and exploring them is a great (and cheap!) way to spend an afternoon. Many, like this one, are actual streets with homes whose addresses are, in fact, on the staircase itself. Search "Stairway Walks Los Angeles" on Amazon and you'll find several books with walking tour itineraries.

    Posted by: Gianpiero | Jun 2, 2011 7:39:28 PM

  11. Great suggestion, Gienpiero. I'll do that!

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 2, 2011 8:21:53 PM

  12. Harry Hay lived on Cove Avenue, which is where the early Mattachine meetings took place. So this naming would be entirely appropriate and I hope it happens!

    Posted by: Jeffrey Schwarz | Jun 2, 2011 8:54:47 PM

  13. I love history, and this is a nice idea. It's interesting that the very first gay rights organization was founded way back in 1925 by Henry Gerber a postal worker who was fired.

    Posted by: blatherer | Jun 2, 2011 9:09:15 PM

  14. Laurel and hardy were talkies, not silents..
    And freaking hilarious! And sweet too, they slept together in their movies :)

    Posted by: Hank | Jun 2, 2011 9:22:55 PM

  15. I'd like to point out that Silver Lake is a neighborhood, not a "section" of Los Angeles as Andy puts it. Such a strange and dehumanizing choice of words Andy.

    Posted by: Lano | Jun 3, 2011 1:17:09 AM

  16. Harry Hay was a supporter of NAMBLA and made speeches supporting sex with boys. Here's what he said in 1983 (archived on the NAMBLA website):

    "I also would like to say at this point that it seems to me that in the gay community the people who should be running interference for NAMBLA are the parents and friends of gays. Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world. And they would be welcoming this, and welcoming the opportunity for young gay kids to have the kind of experience that they would need."

    Posted by: Inside | Jun 3, 2011 12:06:58 PM

  17. Hi, Harry lived at the top of this staircase and this is where the first meeting of what would become the Mattachine Society took place in 1950

    Posted by: Wes | Jun 3, 2011 2:35:00 PM

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