Gay Wing's Haters and Lovers

Our blockbuster cover story last week went viral, and global, as hundreds of thousands of people shared reporter Ani Ucar's “In the Gay Wing of L.A. Men's Central Jail, It's Not Shanks and Muggings but Hand-Sewn Gowns and Tears,” as well as her accompanying video, “EXCLUSIVE: Inside the Gay Wing of L.A. Men's Central Jail.”

Plenty of homophobes weighed in with unpleasant comments, such as Svineall's suggestion, “You just keep all that homo stuff to the West Coast.”

On the liberal side, many were bothered that the story and video made the gay wing of the notorious jail seem livable. Impossible, right? As Ssered wrote: “It's still jail, which means that people are cut off from their families, jobs, homes and communities; deprived of their freedom; often denied access to appropriate health care.”

Some readers said the inmates in the gay dorms had too much freedom, with retired jailer Retiredandlovingit writing, “What was seen on the video was extremely mild compared to the over-the-top behavior I personally witnessed.

Jon Lau was among several who watched the three-minute video embedded in the story and said something we don't hear often from readers: “This needs to be way longer! More please!!”

But it was Johnnie Harvey, a gay, black journalism student at Kansas State University, who understood what the story was really all about.

“I wanted to take the time to thank L.A. Weekly, Voice Media Group and Ani Ucar,” Harvey wrote. “It's been a very long time since I have read an article concerning the gay community without shaking my head or quickly moving along. … I'm currently in a class that discusses issues in the media regarding topics such as sex, race and sexual orientation. Our book speaks about the struggle LGBT individuals have while being covered in the news and on the big screen. It says gay people are often 'seen' but not 'heard,' taking the form of America's sassy, gay best friend. It also calls to the fact that cis gay men and cis lesbians are the only part of the LGBT community that has a substantial amount of support. But your story changes all that.

“To first know that the prison system is taking the time and effort to accommodate for LGBT inmates is amazing. As the article says, LGBT inmates are more likely to face harm than straight, cis inmates, a fact that has kept my gay, black behind far away from a cell. But to see a media outlet covering such a feat, and not as a 'fluff' piece where it's obvious the writer HAD to cover the story but an honest storytelling, is breathtaking. Giving voice to Yah Yah, the transgender K6G den mother, provides a face to an overlooked and often shunned part of my community.”

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