WEHOville was out at The Abbey’s 30th anniversary celebration Sunday afternoon, where Mayor Lindsey Horvath declared May 23 as “The Abbey Day” in WeHo, and Lady Gaga debuted her “Born This Way” slogan painted in pride colors on the Robertson Blvd. We spoke with all four City Councilmembers in attendance and asked them what they loved about the iconic West Hollywood nightspot. David Cooley gave a heartfelt 20 minute speech counting the steps along the road with many thanks to those who supported him along way.
Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community with its vibrant 40-day-long One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. The festival kicked-off on Harvey Milk Day, Saturday, May 22, 2021 and runs through Wednesday, June 30, 2021, which marks the end of Pride month.
This year, to recognize Harvey Milk Day-weekend with something extra, the City of West Hollywood conferred two special Proclamations officially declaring Sunday, May 23, 2021 as “Born This Way Day” to honor Lady Gaga and the Born This Way Foundation on the 10th anniversary of the iconic “Born This Way” album, and officially declaring the day as “The Abbey Day” on the occasion of celebrating The Abbey Food & Bar’s 30 years of success. Proclamations marking these official declarations were presented by Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath to Lady Gaga and to David Cooley, owner of The Abbey, respectively, on behalf of the City Council of the City of West Hollywood. Mayor Horvath also presented a Key to the City to Lady Gaga with a note of thanks: “Thank you for encouraging us to love ourselves and be proud!”
Lady Gaga, the Grammy and Oscar Award-winning superstar and pop icon, is also well known as a supporter and ally of the LGBTQ community. Ten years ago, on May 23, 2011, the “Born This Way” album was released and its lead single became an LGBTQ anthem. The song has encouraged people of all sexual orientations, genders, ages, and races to accept themselves and others, and to embrace differences, reject prejudices, and feel empowered.
“Through her music and activism, Lady Gaga has become a cultural icon for our generation,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath. “The anthem ‘Born This Way’ has become an out-and-proud declarative stance for countless LGBTQ people. The Born This Way Foundation fosters honest conversations about mental health with young people and seeks to eradicate the stigma around mental health struggles. I’m overjoyed to declare today ‘Born This Way Day’ and, on behalf of the entire City Council, give a Key to the City to Lady Gaga as we launch Pride this year in West Hollywood!”
In 2012, Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, founded the Born This Way Foundation, which supports the mental health of young people and works with them to create a kinder and braver world. The Born This Way Foundation develops innovative programming and partnerships to model, convene, and support healthy conversations about mental wellness, to connect youth with resources and services that support their mental health – online and offline, and to encourage and build communities that understand and prioritize mental and emotional wellness.
To embody the spirit of the Born This Way message, a temporary “Born This Way” street-lane installation has been unveiled on N. Robertson Boulevard, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard. The letters spell-out Born This Way and the design incorporates a pattern of colorful symbols representing LGBTQ Pride and the array of diverse LGBTQ communities. The installation is anticipated to remain on display through the end of June in recognition of Pride month.
The Abbey Food & Bar opened in West Hollywood in May 1991. Since then, it has become a social and cultural epicenter for the local LGBTQ community. Thirty years ago, David Cooley, founder and owner of The Abbey, invested in a small, discreet space in West Hollywood that he renovated into a coffeehouse. During three decades, The Abbey has expanded five times, growing from a humble coffee shop to a 16,000-square-foot venue with multiple rooms, four bars, and a full menu.
“David Cooley and The Abbey have made an indelible impact on West Hollywood,” said Mayor Horvath. “The Abbey is as much a community hub as it is a global destination. It generously gives back by supporting dozens of LGBTQ and nonprofit groups, including regularly hosting events to support local organizations. We are so lucky to have The Abbey in our community and I’m thrilled to celebrate its 30 years of success!”
In addition to a restaurant and bar, The Abbey serves as a de facto community center, often becoming a place to gather in protest or celebration of important milestones impacting the LGBTQ community, such as the passage of Proposition 8 in California or the announcement of the Supreme Court decision affirming the right of same-sex couples to get married.
On Saturday, May 22, 2021 the City of West Hollywood kicked-off its One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival with a special online performance of Patricia Loughrey’s play Dear Harvey: Stories of Harvey Milk, which recounts the life and lasting impact of groundbreaking LGBTQ activist and politician Harvey Milk. A complete list of this year’s One City One Pride festival events is available at www.weho.org/pride. Due to the coronavirus crisis, festival events have moved to an online virtual platform to respond to the City of West Hollywood’s efforts to prioritize health and public safety.
The City of West Hollywood is like no other city in the world. West Hollywood is one of the most outspoken cities in the nation in advocating for the legal rights and full representation of LGBTQ people. More than 40 percent of residents in the City of West Hollywood identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. West Hollywood is also a thriving cultural center that has an unparalleled historical connection to music, entertainment, architecture, fashion, and culture-making. The City embodies a unique rock-and-roll history and West Hollywood is home to numerous groundbreaking music venues, hotels, and restaurants that have over many decades, influenced cultural currents throughout the world.
The City of West Hollywood has declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Individuals are advised to stay at home as much as possible and limit close interactions to those in your household. When in public, community members should maintain your space with social (physical) distancing of at least six feet and cover your face. Public Health officials recommend that everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to continue to follow physical distancing and infection control directives and wear a clean face covering that securely covers both your nose and mouth when in in public.
West Hollywood City Hall is currently closed to the public and has suspended all in-person transactions. Most public City buildings and facilities remain closed. City Hall remains accessible for business and essential services with transactions to be conducted by phone (323) 848-6400 and via the City’s website at www.weho.org.
City of West Hollywood coronavirus updates are available at www.weho.org/coronavirus and the City encourages community members to follow @wehocity on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and turn on notifications. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media, sign up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar.
For reporters and members of the media seeking additional information about the City of West Hollywood, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Public Information Officer, Sheri A. Lunn, at (323) 848-6391 or email@example.com. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.
Photos by Jon Viscott, Courtesy City of West Hollywood, full captions in attached
# # #
E-mail correspondence with the City of West Hollywood (including any attachment) is a public record under the California Public Records Act, which may be subject to public disclosure under the Act.