Ah, but just wait, Martin says. As the L.A. gay community makes "further gains and we have spoils to fight about, you can be sure the fighting and the divisiveness are going to increase exponentially." Sure enough, negative campaigning has reared its head in the 13th District race. Fighting over spoils is, after all, a large part of politics. The baggage of growing up gay in a straight world adds another edge. "You really come from a place of self-hatred and it's . . . a battle to get over it. I think that impacts our politics," says Thomas K. Duane, who became New York City's first openly gay council member after winning a bruising primary fight with lesbian Liz Abzug.
"Also, we come from so many different places," Duane adds. Race, class, gender--all are thrown together under the gay banner to a degree absent from many other movements. They don't always blend that well. Indeed, L.A.'s gay politics in many ways remains chiefly the province of affluent Westsiders, more often male than female and mostly white.
"It is changing, but it's basically a white person's game," council candidate Terrazas notes.
Says J Craig Fong, Lambda's L.A. director: "My feeling here in Los Angeles is that every time communities of color have wanted a place at the table, they have had to fight their way in." Both the community center and APLA, for example, have been criticized in the past for paying insufficient attention to minority needs.
In the end, the very media glitz and money for which Los Angeles is often derided are helping propel the city to the forefront of the national debate over gay rights. The merger of politics, media and money makes for a game that Los Angeles knows how to play.
"If there is a place that seems like home and heart, it's San Francisco," says John D'Emilio, a gay movement historian at the University of North Carolina. "New York is mind, and Los Angeles is politics and power."