The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council tonight will consider a proposal* to name the Cove Avenue stairway in honor of Harry Hay, one of nation’s first gay rights activists, and spend $1,000 on a memorial plaque. In the early 1940s, Hay moved into a house near the stairway in the 2300 block of Cove Avenue, according to background submitted with the neighborhood council proposal. Nearly a decade later on November 11, 1950, Hay hosted a meeting to present a proposal that would lead to the creation of the nation’s first gay rights group:
On a windy afternoon they spent several hours looking out at the Silver Lake Reservoir and talking over what one of them called “the most dangerous thing I’ve ever read.” The setting for this unprecedented discussion was the hillside next to the top of the Cove Avenue staircase. They informally called themselves the Society of Fools, and by April 1951 had become the Mattachine Society.
The proposal to name the Cove stairway east of the Silver Lake reservoirs in honor of Hay, who died nearly a decade ago, would not require nearby residents to change their mailing addresses, said Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov, who heads the neighborhood council’s Urban Design & Preservation Committee. The committee, which adopted the proposal, received about 20 letters in support, she said.
If the neighborhood council’s Governing Board approves the proposal tonight, neighborhood council officials will work with Council District 13 and city departments to find out how a plaque could be installed on the steps, Bougart-Sharkov said. The design, wording and location of the plaque still have to be decided.
In addition, it’s stil not clear if that $1,000 would cover the cost of a plaque, and Bougart-Sharkov said some residents have indicated they would chip in to cover the cost.
* Update: The motion was adopted unanimously by the Governing Board, reports Bourgart-Sharkov.