April 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm PST | by Susan Hornik
Venice Beach Pride’s grassroots appeal
Venice Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Venice Beach Pride organizers are hard at work planning this year’s event. Photo by Grant Turck

LA Pride’s #ResistMarch planning kicked into high gear after the City of West Hollywood announced on April 3 it would provide $1,000,000 to cover anticipated security costs of the nearly four-mile long march. Though there is no size comparison, nor is it competition (#ResistMarch organizers expect to attract 500,000 people), Venice Pride, the upstart Pride on the beach, is giving WeHo a run for its money. And at one-tenth the price.

The new Pride on the beach for Westsiders is looking like a promising alternative to West Hollywood’s LA Pride.

“Building upon last year’s success, our 13-member board has been hard at work planning an incredible line-up of inclusive events for all ages to enjoy this June 2-3,” said Grant Turck, board president of Venice Pride.

Among the many activities is a beach dedication to Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay person elected to LA City Council. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and many other politicos will be in attendance.

“From the dedication of the Bill Rosendahl Memorial Beach to the annual Venice Pride Sign Lighting & Block Party and festival at the world-famous Muscle Beach, a good time is sure to be had by everyone,” Turck said, promising there would also be more “surprises” along the way.  DJ Victor Rodriguez, known for his popular Bears In Space event will once again spin tunes for the Block Party.

Venice Pride, in part, emerged as a grassroots response to the shuttering of the last gay bar west of the 405, noted Turck.

“Venice has a huge gay history. It is a symbol of diversity, acceptance, and creativity for so much of the world. There was The Friendship on Channel Road (now a straight bar), Blackies’ (now Chinois) and Van Go’s Ear on Main Street, Westwinds (now a T-shirt shop) and Match Box on Ocean Front Walk, Big Brothers (now Salt Air) on Abbot Kinney Blvd. and Free People on West Pico Blvd (now Coal & Ice). Over the last several years, we’ve lost one Westside gay institution after the next.”

News of Roosterfish’s rumored closure last February left some feeling like gay culture in the area had been erased.

“I was at First Friday, a monthly event held on Abbott Kinney Boulevard last year with a friend. People turn out for it in droves. It was usually an especially grand night at Roosterfish, as the Westside really came together for it. When we realized that the bar would be closing, it felt like we needed to create something that would reinvigorate the recognition that there is a gay community here. Continuing Venice Pride reminds LGBT people that they have a place here on the Westside.”

Turck campaigned to secure Historic-Cultural Monument designation for the bar from the City of LA, but was unsuccessful.

Several high-profile corporations have expressed interest in sponsoring the event, including last year’s sponsors like SnapChat, Google and others.

West Hollywood Pride has had some controversy, due to its admission price, said Turck.

“In recent years, West Hollywood’s LA Pride has forgotten its roots by putting most of its energy into a music festival with a bloated budget that demands expensive tickets. LGBT Pride should be accessible to all with the fewest barriers to inclusion necessary, because the reality is whether young, old, gay, trans, non-binary, masc, fem, average or buff—we are all in this fight together. And our strength comes through the celebration of these differences.”

While the Trump administration has caused much worry among LGBT people, Turck remains hopeful.

“The American people have protested before and we’re doing it again now. Grassroots movements like the Women’s March in D.C. and the upcoming #ResistMarches all across the country are only the beginning. These movements remind us of what is possible when we rise together as one voice united. The present administration forgets their victory was by a minority, and their failure to capture the hearts and minds of the majority will be its undoing,” Turck emphasized.

Members of the Venice Pride board will also march in the free #ResistMarch happening on Sunday, June 11.

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