LOS ANGELES — The intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Sycamore Avenue in the West Adams district was dedicated May 26 as Archbishop Carl Bean Square, honoring a pioneering gay minister.
Bean was raised in Baltimore as a devout Christian, active in his church’s music ministry.
When he discovered that he was attracted to members of the same sex, he felt isolated with no one to soothe the sting of rejection by family and church members and he attempted suicide when he was 12 years old, according to Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, who authored the motion designating the intersection in Bean’s honor.
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.
Bean — who turns 75 this year — was ordained as a minister in 1982, the year he founded the Unity Fellowship Church for openly gay and lesbian African Americans.
Bean later founded the Minority AIDS Project.
“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,” Wesson said.
“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,” Wesson added.
Among those attending the ceremony were retired U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Lindey Horvath and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass’ District Director Darryn Harris.
Staff and Wire Reports