Monday, January 18, 2021

Los Angeles Intersection Named After Black LGBT Icon Carl Bean

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Unity Fellowship of Christ Church Reverend Elders Leslie Burke and Russell Thornhill celebrate the designation of Archbishop Carl Bean Square at Jefferson Blvd. and Sycamore Ave. in Jefferson Park.

*LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Getting a jump start on LGBT Pride month, on Sunday, May 26 before a standing room only audience, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson designated of the intersection of Jefferson Blvd. and Sycamore Ave. as “ARCHBISHOP CARL BEAN SQUARE.”

It was for the founder of Minority AIDS Project and the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, America’s first affirming and welcoming Black church for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  Others in attendance included retired Congresswoman Diane Watson, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Lindey Horvath and Congresswoman Karen Bass’ District Director Darryn Harris.

“Through his activism Carl Bean pioneered how we treat, educate and advocate for one of the most significant health crises of our time and he did it with a focus and passion for saving Black lives,” said Wesson. “He did this during a time when the resources and attention were focused on white gay men and not communities of color. Beyond his work with Minority AIDS Project, Carl Bean’s leadership spirit led him to create the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, the first Black church affirming and welcoming of the LGBT community.  This honor is long overdue and I’m excited that for decades to come, his legacy will be preserved for future Angelenos to learn and celebrate.”

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Darryn Harris, District Director for Congresswoman Karen Bass, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church Reverend Elders Leslie Burke and Russell Thornhill, actor Charles Reese, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Senior Bishop Zachary Jones and community advocate and Special Assistant to Council President Wesson Jasmyne Cannick.

In 1982, Unity Fellowship Church Movement, Los Angeles (UFCLA) was founded by then Reverend Carl Bean for openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender African Americans. The Los Angeles church grew into a movement that eventually went national and is heralded as the first Black church for LGBT persons.

In 1985, Bean founded the Minority AIDS Project (MAP), to address the needs of individuals within the African American and Latino communities who were living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. Since then, MAP has provided a continuum of services that offers comprehensive wrap around HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services for low-income people of color who experience multiple vulnerabilities and are at high risk of HIV infection or transmission within South Los Angeles.

Bean sang the powerful vocals on the 1977 Motown classic, “I Was Born This Way.” The song—where Bean triumphantly proclaims in the chorus, “I’m happy, I’m carefree and I’m gay/I was born this way”—became one of the first club hits of the gay liberation movement, popularized by disco DJs around the country throughout the 80s.

Archbishop Carl Bean currently serves as the founding and presiding prelate for the national Unity Fellowship Church Movement.

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Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Unity Fellowship Church of Christ Senior Bishop Zachary Jones, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Horvath, Reverend Elders Russell Thornhill and Leslie Burke.

The square dedication was introduced by Wesson and was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Council on March 22, 2019.

Photos courtesy of the Office of Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson

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