EXPIRED: 08/10/09 – Albert Gordon, 94, was a straight lawyer who was the best friend a gay guy in LA could ever have.
Gordon, who had twin sons were gay, became a lawyer in his late 40s and devoted most of his practice to defending the rights of homosexuals and battling the bigotry of law enforcement. Often working for free, he became known as “the leading pro bono lawyer to L.A.’s gay community,” historians Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons wrote in their 2006 book “Gay L.A.”
“Before there was a straight-gay alliance in America, there was Al Gordon,” the Rev. Troy Perry, a longtime activist and founder of the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches, said in an interview last week. “When other people wouldn’t touch us, he did. He was a hero.”
One of Gordon’s most memorable cases stemmed from a notorious raid on a gay bathhouse on Melrose Avenue in 1975, when scores of Los Angeles police officers broke up a mock slave auction staged as part of the entertainment for a gay community fundraiser. Apparently not amused by the gimmick, the police treated the event as actual human slave trafficking, a felony, and arrested 40 participants. Gordon helped win their release.
He supported a second mock auction, organized by Perry to raise defense funds, by going on the auction block himself. He went for $369 to his wife, Lorraine.