Alexei Romanoff was born in the Ukraine in 1936, fled with his family to the United States during World War II, and came of age as a gay man in New York’s Greenwich Village during the 1950s. In 1958, he moved to Los Angeles.
Also in the 1960s, Alexei helped establish clinics where gays people could access medical care free of discrimination and prejudice. Those clinics became the foundation of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Alexei later helped organize the Santa Monica Bay Coalition for Human Rights, and helped defeat California’s hateful Briggs Initiative in 1978. In the 1980s, Alexei fought for AIDS research funding, helped convince Alcoholics Anonymous to recognize and list LGBT meetings, and co-founded the Avatar Club of Los Angeles to promote safer sex education for the leather community.
Over his long and storied career as a queer activist, Alexei has been ready to roll up his sleeves on behalf of any individual or group whose rights were being denied or trampled. In 2009, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council recognized Alexei for his dedication to civil rights. That year also, Alexei was instrumental in getting the Black Cat designated as a California historical monument. In 2017, Alexei served as Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Resist March, which took the place of that year’s traditional Pride march.