Thus, said black activist Wilson, gay minorities were left with no "safe spaces." Leaders said that many turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the isolation.
"For most minorities, the safe space is with their families," he said. "When the world beats you up for being black, then you could turn to your family for emotional strength. But when the world beats you up for being black and gay, you have no place to turn."
More and more gay minorities are now finding such "safe spaces." They are meeting each other in discos like the Catch One in South Los Angeles and the Circus Bar in Silver Lake.
They comfort and support each other in churches like Unity Fellowship, established by Bean three years ago with about 20 people who met in the home of a lesbian member. Since then, the church has moved into a modest office on West Jefferson Boulevard to accommodate the 250 people who attend weekly services.
During a celebration of the church's anniversary, Bean asked members of the congregation to stand if they had abused drugs and alcohol, but were on the road to recovery. Nearly half of the group, a mix of professionals and laborers from all over the city, nervously rose to their feet.
"God loves you all," Bean told the tearful group. "He created you. He created me. And believe me, God don't make mistakes."
These attitudes are attracting attention from some politicians. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was the first major politician to address a minority gay audience last year when he spoke to nearly 1,000 people at Catch One on the eve of the California primary election.
"Share in the Power"
"I understand power, and when people begin to feel good about themselves, begin to feel like they are somebody and that they deserve equal treatment, then they begin to build their own institutions to share in the power," Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) told an audience at Unity Fellowship Church last month. "I see that happening here and it's long overdue."
Torie Osborn, the first woman director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, where the number of minority group members on the staff has doubled over the last few years, said she is not worried that the movement among minorities will weaken mainstream gay efforts.
"It is actually bringing more minorities into the mainstream groups and making the groups stronger," she said.
However, even the leaders concede that this movement has a long way to go.
Yamamoto, of the Asian/Pacific American Lesbians and Gays, said the group avoids meeting in predominantly Asian communities because many members still fear that their friends or neighbors will discover their sexual orientation.
And one black lesbian, a computer trainer for Los Angeles County who asked not to be identified, said: "People like Rev. Bean can come out because they do not depend on society to live. I need my job. I have a mortgage to pay, and I can't lose all that.
"I never wanted to be a crusader. I just want to live a peaceful life. Maybe if I won the lottery I could come out of the closet. Until then, it's my business."