On the morning of June 12, 2016, our peace was shattered, and, within months, our confidence that LGBT equality was secure would be, too.
In Los Angeles, we woke to news of the slaughter of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando and horror quickly blended with terror when, early that same morning, Santa Monica police announced they had arrested a man headed to the LA Pride Parade with assault weapons, a cache of ammunitions, pipe bombs and explosives.
In defiance, a form of resistance, the LA Pride Parade went on, and some 100,000 people took to Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, honoring the memory of those killed in Orlando and declaring that we were not going to be terrorized.
Many of us could think of nothing but the faces of those young people in Orlando and how they died. Their life stories played out for weeks as the media focused on their lives and hundreds of tributes.
For a moment it seemed the nation rallied around the LGBT+ community in our stunned grief. But it was election season and another nightmare appeared to be on the horizon.
Donald Trump, a toxic presidential candidate — he mocked disabled people, bullied his opponents, gloated about sexually harassing women, ejected people of color from his rallies, exploited xenophobia, bashed Islam, threatened to upend 225 years of international diplomacy, rhetorically fueled hate-filled rallies, disparaged journalists, intellectual thought and science, even as he was abetted by a hostile power — became the Republican nominee.
He selected Mike Pence, a dangerous political persecutor of LGBT people, as his running mate and courted the homophobic wing of the far right.
Trump went on to become the 45th president, something few of us saw coming.
He set about to staff his cabinet with people who oppose the mission of the agencies they oversee, almost all of whom oppose LGBT rights.
But that was just for starters. Since then, we have lived a slow motion, miles long train-wreck of a presidency, crumpling up hideously with every infuriating, peevish tweet or executive order. Many of us have felt a kind of slow evisceration, constantly threatened and under assault.
And we are furious. Or numb. Or frustrated. But we have to stand up and reach out and take our power back. LA Pride’s June 11, 2017 #ResistMarch is just such an opportunity.
Christopher Street West has embraced the Resistance movement and that has given new life to the organization that had appeared to stumble in recent years. Last year saw a number of controversies emerge that nearly imperiled the 47-year-old organization. The primary charge was that LA Pride had lost its sense of legacy and history and that by trying to appeal to a new, younger generation of LGBT people, it was prematurely embracing a post-gay sensibility.
Orlando changed that. The election of Donald Trump changed that. The Resistance movement demands change.
Thanks to the dogged efforts of Brian Pendleton, much of the funding necessary to pull off the four-mile march is in place. It will wind its way from Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, to La Brea then south to Santa Monica Boulevard ending up at Robertson.
The City of West Hollywood has promised to pay up to $1 million for the cost of public safety (sheriffs, fire and street safety) for the #ResistMarch. And it has made other concessions to CSW that help stabilize the organization and preserve at least $5 million in tax revenues generated during the three-day event.
The #ResistMarch answers most critics of CSW who allege the parade had lost its community appeal, abandoned the pioneers of the community and lost its mission. The #ResistMarch appeals to all of those things and importantly, it may restore faith in Christopher Street West.
— Troy Masters is publisher and editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Reach him at email@example.com.