For a Queer Community in Los Angeles, This Public Park is a Lifeline

On a Sunday afternoon, Rory Manns, 25, strolled into the park, soccer ball in hand. Rory’s friends brought blankets, bags of snacks and a charcuterie board. In this sacred space, everyone had an offering to share.

Located to the west of Downtown Los Angeles, the Vista Hermosa Natural Park is a pocket of rolling woodlands that cradle streams and lush meadows. It has always been a space of community, peppered with picnic areas, a playground and an amphitheater. But during the pandemic, when so many other gathering places were closed, its power came into focus for Rory, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, and the other queer and trans young adults in their cohort.

Meeting at the park was therapeutic for the group, allowing them to express themselves and learn from one another in a safe, intimate space. The tradition has extended beyond the pandemic.

“It’s a community that we’ve been looking for and been trying to find and build for ourselves in L.A. for as long as we can remember,” Alè Bersanetti, 24, said. “Just how affirming and natural and just how seen you feel in a friendship, how deep those connections are. It’s really special.”

Now that things have returned to normal, they have continued to be intentional about how they spend their time, and whom they choose to spend it with.

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