The Founding Folk of L.A. Were LGBTQ-Friendly, Celebrated “Two-Spirited” Tribe Members

The Tongva Tribe believed that homosexuality was a gift and called queer individuals “two spirited.”

LGBTQ+ history in Los Angeles begins well before Los Angeles even existed. Before colonial settlers took over in 1781, L.A. was called Yang Na and was home to the Tongva Tribe.

A mural depicting the colonization of Tongva people.

The Tongva people believed in gay marriages, transgender lifestyles and that homosexuality was determined in utero. The Tongva celebrated homosexuals as “two spirited” people, thinking of it as a gift rather than defection. Eventually Catholicism took over the majority of religion in the Yang Na area, diluting the native beliefs and practices.

A Tongva woman sits in front of her hut in what is now the L.A. River Basin

Though much of the Tongva history has be erased, there is a Yang Na plaque at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles monument near Olvera Street.