creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Monday, May 11, 2015

Developing the LGBTQ History Mobile Tour with Stuart Timmons

Spending a day at the Getty Museum with fab folks: Jason, Stuart, Robert, and Rochelle
There's something quite wonderful in development and I'm excited to share some of the news! For the past several months I have been working with the gay historian Stuart Timmons and a few other people (especially Eugene Salandra, Mike Che, and Robert Patrick Playwright) to develop a City of West Hollywood LGBTQ History Mobile Tour. We'll be unveiling the results on June 6 as part of the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival that the City of West Hollywood sponsors each year. I've been quite fortunate to have been involved as an artist in the festival for the past 4 years now, and love how committed to the arts The City of West Hollywood proves to be (its motto is "The Creative City" afterall).

What is the tour? It's the fabulous completion and evolution of a walking tour that Stuart Timmons was developing in 2007. He is the acclaimed author of "The Trouble With Harry Hay" and co-author "Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians" (the definitive book on such history). In 2007 Stuart began developing a trio of walking tours, which included Downtown LA, Silver Lake, and West Hollywood. In January 2008 he suffered a severe stroke which left him unable to complete the West Hollywood portion of his trio. His health situation was troubling for awhile, but in recent years he has made great strides in recovery and currently resides in an assisted living home. He is bound to a wheelchair but quite capable and growing in strength and enthusiasm - with a mind as sharp and knowledgeable about history as ever.

I met Stuart a few years ago at the request of author/editor Mark Thompson to help introduce Stuart to the new generation of Radical Faeries that began to emerge in Los Angeles. Stuart and his friend Bill Fishman lead a small group of LARadicalFaeries on a tour of Silver Lake (the home base for LARF activity). It really opened our eyes to the history lessons and stories of places that were no longer present, but added to our unique LGBTQ history and paved the way for our current life. We had the sense that this was important knowledge that deserved our attention.

In the summer of 2014, when the City of West Hollywood announced that the theme of their 2015 One City One Pride festival was "WeHo@30" and they were doing a citywide celebration of the 30th Anniversary, it made sense to apply for a grant that would allow Stuart to work on developing and completing his West Hollywood tour. In recent years, more and more guided tours are popping up in Los Angeles, all of them owing part of their information from Stuart's work. It's wonderful to see people gain an interest in gay history, and Stuart Timmons definitely led the way for many to follow. 

Stuart lunching with writer Liz Brown and yours truly, Jason - at WeHo fixture: The French Quarter Restaurant
So, since February, a select number of individuals have slowly been helping Stuart bring his tour to fruition. It's been a wonderful process and I really am grateful for Stuart's trust in my guidance on the project. We've taken his tour to new levels. It was originally meant to be an audio tour that people listened to as they walked around, but we've added many new twists. In addition to the audio goal (which we aim to develop after the festival), we've created a special live event on June 6, which involves people hopping on board a shuttle from the West Hollywood Library for a 15 minute loop around and then being dropped off along Sunset Blvd where they will walk for about 60 minutes encountering  performers dressed in costumes that will deliver Stuart's tour in a vibrant manner. We even have some colorful parasols for participants to take with them (as in the photo at top) -making the event a memorable outing. The City of West Hollywood and Arts Coordinators have been wonderful in helping us bring Stuart's history tour to, well, historic levels of fabulousness!

Robert Patrick Playwright and Stuart Timmons at French Quarter Restaurant
The story continues to unfold! It's really remarkable to witness Stuart's excitement for the project and his reconnecting with people he hasn't seen in ages during the process.  I have encountered many people who hadn't seen Stuart since his stroke and didn't know how he was doing. As a result of this tour project, Stuart is getting back into the scene! It's been great to take Stuart on outings around WeHo or theatre events. He's even had people he didn't know come up to him on the street and proclaim their love and appreciation for his work!

I hope that you'll get to know him better as well by joining us on June 6 or by downloading the free tour materials that will be available at the City of West Hollywood website after June 6.

Stay tuned! More stories and history to come!

Stuart enjoys the faux New Orleans decour of French Quarter Restaurant

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