5 LGBT Movers and Shakers in L.A.
From the national battle for marriage equality to the ever-increasing pool of public figures blasting down their closet doors, it's a good time to be LGBT.
This year's People issue celebrates the 56 Angelenos we find most intriguing, including some LGBT individuals making their mark on the city and beyond. From a playwright to a poet, or a therapist to a Trekkie, here are five people who are making things happen in the L.A.'s gay community.
1. Prince Gomolvilas
Kevin ScanlonPrince Gomolvilas
While researching The Brothers Paranormal, his latest comedy-horror play, about Thai-American brothers who launch a ghost-hunting business, Prince Gomolvilas was invited to go on a ghost hunt with the Los Angeles Paranormal Association.
The owner of a private residence in Santa Clarita had reported overwhelming paranormal activity: objects flying off shelves, a pinball machine that turned on even when unplugged, children talking to their invisible friends.
Gomolvilas, 40, who says he's "always on the lookout for proof of the paranormal," accompanied three investigators (including Layla Halfhill, a half-Thai American who was on Gomolvilas' favorite ghost-hunting show, Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures) to check it out.
Not only was the woman's house near the epicenter of 1928's St. Francis Dam disaster but the previous owners' daughter had died after falling down a well, and there was a cemetery in the backyard.
"When [the owner] mentioned that we were [also] near an Indian burial ground, I started laughing hysterically," Gomolvilas says. "It's like those stupid movies that overdo it. I could buy the dam, the girl and the cemetery. But the Indian burial ground? Come on, really?"
Five hours later -- and one door opening by itself during the night -- the results were inconclusive, and Gomolvilas still can't quite believe in the ghosts he writes about.
For more, see Ada Tseng's profile of Prince Gomolvilas.
2. Sean Z. Maker
Kevin ScanlonSean Z. Maker
It's a given that Sean Z. Maker would grow up to create comics -- he's been drawing them most of his life. That he would also produce one of the most intriguing comic book events in the country is a little unexpected, especially for him.
Maker, né Holman -- his new name is a combination of his pen name, Sean-Z, and a Facebook handle -- founded Bent-Con, an annual November event that's one of the few fan conventions dedicated to LGBT pop culture. In just three years, Bent-Con has gone from a one-day show in a small, vacant Silver Lake storefront to a weekend-long hotel bash at the Burbank Marriott.
Maker, 37, refers to Bent-Con as a "celebration" rather than a convention. "Everything that I do that is involved in Bent-Con is a reflection of my past," he says.
For more, see Liz Ohanesian's profile of Sean Z. Maker.
3. Eloise Klein Healy
Kevin ScanlonEloise Klein Healy
"I could go on about the choices I've made," Eloise Klein Healy writes in her 1991 poetry collection, Artemis in Echo Park, "and all the other elements of my landscape / emotionally carved out or artfully decorated, / but the real truth is, here you can see / the ribs showing through." Healy, who was recently named Los Angeles' first poet laureate by outgoing mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has made the kind of choices that define a career, although perhaps that has become clear only in retrospect -- as is often the case with the choices that define us.
Now 69, Healy has had a long and successful academic career, directing the women's studies program at Cal State Northridge, founding the MFA program in creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she is now a professor emeritus, and founding Arktoi Books, a Red Hen Press imprint that specializes in the work of lesbian authors. She's written seven books of poetry, the most recent of which, A Wild Surmise, was published in March. And then there's the poet laureate honor, which Healy says took her by complete surprise, "because I didn't think they'd choose a white lesbian."
For more, see Amy Scattergood's profile of Eloise Klein Healy.
4. George Takei
Kevin ScanlonGeorge Takei
At 76, George Takei is in the prime of his life: The Star Trek actor and L.A. native is now a social media maven, a theatrical producer and, with his husband, the former Brad Altman (now Takei), a poster child for marriage equality.
That doesn't mean everyone knows how to pronounce his name properly. It's Ta-KAY, he says, not Ta-KAI -- as in "Ta-KAY is gay," he quips.
Takei's dry wit and deadpan style have made him one of the Internet's most beloved celebrities. But it's a dark episode from his childhood that shaped his world.
For more, see Lina Lecaro's profile of George Takei.
5. Rob Weiss
Kevin ScanlonRob Weiss
On a stone patio outside the main house of the world-renowned Promises addiction treatment center in Malibu, therapist Robert Weiss takes a few bites of Mexican food, a slight breeze ruffling the napkin on his lap, and considers the journey that has made him a leading international expert in the field of sex-addiction recovery. A recovering sex addict himself, Weiss, an affable, self-deprecating 52-year-old, has been in a domestic partnership with the same man for more than 12 years.
"I got away from home as soon as I could because my mother was mentally ill," Weiss says. As a teenager in the late 1970s in the New York City suburbs of Westchester County, "I wanted to go to college at Berkeley, but my parents thought it would be too crazy there. But they let me go to Tulane in New Orleans. That shows you something about my parents."
Weiss was promiscuous from the age of 14 into his mid-20s. "I had sex with hundreds and hundreds of men," he says -- even while married to a woman. (He came out officially at age 26, after his divorce.)
In 1985, after graduating college, Weiss found himself in Los Angeles, working at the Galleria in Sherman Oaks, when a female friend suggested he attend a 12-step meeting for his sexual addiction.
There, "I started to realize I had a self," Weiss says. "I realized I couldn't maintain my sexual behavior and still like myself."
For more, see Patrick Range McDonald's profile of Rob Weiss.
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