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Le Barcito Closes in Silver Lake — And There Goes the Gayborhood

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Le Barcito, a gay bar in Silver Lake, threw its final party on Halloween. As the bar shutters its doors, some locals are the lamenting the loss of markers that Silver Lake used to be a thriving gayborhood.

Le Barcito, which used to be called Black Cat, played an important role in local gay history. Two years before the Stonewall riots in New York City, patrons at the Black Cat rioted in protest of police brutality on New Year's Eve. In 2008, the city declared the site a historic-cultural monument. The Village Idiot, a gastropub on Melrose, is opening up its second beer bar at the site of Le Barcito, according to Eater LA. On its web site, Le Barcito says that it is planning to reopen soon at a new location (though it doesn't say where).

Le Barcito closes its doors within months of other gay landmarks being shuttered (as well as other signs of the steady march of gentrification in Silver Lake). In September, the site of the gay bookstore "A Different Light" was bulldozed (although the location itself had already been closed since the 1990s). That same month, the neighborhood council voted to tear down "No Cruising" signs, which were remnants from an era when some in the local community and the LAPD thought gay cruising was a problem. And of course, the Sunset Junction Festival was called off this year after the organizers and city officials got into a messy fight over permit fees. Although the festival had grown (and arguably outgrown itself), the first festival "was rather darling" when it kicked off in 1980. The festival had originally been conceived as a way to ease tensions between the newer gay transplants and the latino community already living there.

Locals have been weighing in on neighborhood blogs to lament the loss of these landmarks. Rob Roberts, a commenter on Echo Park Patch who lives in Silver Lake, lamented the gradual loss of gay landmarks, although he said that it was a positive sign for the gay community:

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"I'm part time Silver Lake and Palm Springs so that must make me a "pre elder gay"..I also think the under 30 non WeHo gays do Eagle Rock and Echo Park. It is progress that gays and lesbians can really live almost anywhere but there was something nice about living in a "gay" neighborhood.
Even if it was only our perception."

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