A historic LGBTQ+ monument is finally being given the recognition it deserves.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to designate the house formerly owned by gay civil rights activist Morris Kight at 1822 West Fourth St. as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM), a significant step in preserving the history held there. Additionally, while the ancillary structures like the garage and other shacks are excluded, the house is not to be moved from its current location.
Kight was a dedicated gay rights activist from his time working with the 1952 Presidential Campaign of Adlai Stevenson until his death in 2003. He founded a plethora of key organizations and was instrumental to the installation of monuments and other buildings that still have significance in the LGBTQ+ community today.
He co-founded the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in 1969 and Stonewall Democratic Club in 1975, while also helping organize the Christopher Street West gay pride parade in 1970 and helped bring what is now the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to fruition in 1971 among many other contributions to the community.
The house itself was once the place where the Los Angeles Chapter of the GLF fielded calls — around two hundred per day according to Kight — and was raided three times by LAPD, whose then Chief of Police Ed Davis considered Kight as “a thorn in the side” for the many protests and demonstrations he organized.
Former councilmember Paul Koretz was among many speakers who came and spoke in favor of protecting the house. He noted that Kight is “Considered by many to be the most important LGBTQ+ civil rights leader in history.”
“I think in this discussion, Morris Kight’s significance has almost been understated,” Koretz said.
At the beginning of the meeting, an amendment was read into the motion that excluded the site and other structures aside from the house from being designated as historic. This was a topic on the minds of many speakers, who expressed their concern that this change implied the house might not remain in the same place.
“Our main concern about the amendment is that it seems like the house could be moved from its current location,” said well-known progressive activist Susie Shannon. “We would like to have an assurance that the house will remain in its current location.”
“It must stay where it is,” a speaker who signed up as “Ernie” and identified as the Historical Chair of the Stonewall Democratic Club said, “And we are asking each and every one of you to make sure that happens.”
Seemingly responding to these calls, First District Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez read a second amendment into the motion stipulating that the Morris Kight house not be moved from its current location, which was received by cheers from the audience.
One of the issues with the house as it currently stands is its condition, but Councilmember Hernandez says part of the reason there have been delays in passing this motion was to allow her team time to find a solution. A representative for the owner of the property said at the meeting that the owner — Sweetzer Lofts — has emphasized their willingness to convert the house into affordable housing.
Council President Paul Krekorian noted prior to the vote on the amended motion that historical designation does not necessarily save a structure, but the work that councilmember Hernandez and her team put into the effort to save the property made a big difference.
“What Councilmember Hernandez has done today with her amendment, and by working with this property owner, is to actually preserve the building,” Krekorian said. “Not just do it on paper, but to actually preserve it.”
Photo from an L.A. Times “Advo-tisement.”