Connect with us


Christopher Street West faces hurdles

LA Pride Festival is still in flux as #ResistMarch gathers steam



LA Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

The entrance to 2016’s LA Pride’s Festival in West Hollywood Park. (Photo courtesy LA Pride)

Despite big changes and challenges, this year’s LA Pride festival experience will be “similar to the last several years,” according to Chris Classen, president of Christopher Street West (“CSW”), the organization that has produced LA Pride Parade and Festival since 1970.

Over June 10 and 11, attendees can again expect West Hollywood Park to be filled with food, drinks, dancing and a variety of musical acts on three distinct stages, from local performers to popular stars.

But this year is not like years past, and there is a whiff of concern in the air about CSW’s ability to pull it off, at least profitably. Space for the festival is reduced by more than 50 percent as West Hollywood Park undergoes a facelift, and CSW settling on a location just last week.

As organizers of LA’s main pride events, it is inevitable that CSW faces questions from the diverse LGBTQ community. West Hollywood Council member John Duran says that for almost 40 years he has cautioned each CSW president: “You have a thankless job. You can never make everybody happy.”

But complaints about the festival’s impact became noticeably louder last year when CSW rebranded the event a music festival to attract millennials. With the LGBTQ focus of the festival erased from CSW’s website, so too was the sense of connection between the event and a city with a sizeable LGBTQ population.

In response, CSW scrambled to reemphasize the LGBTQ tradition in its marketing, but the updated version of the festival continued as planned.

With its promise of big-name musical performers in 2017, CSW appears to be sticking with that model, albeit LGBTQ branding is front and center.

That choice remains controversial, with people like former CSW board member, LGBTQ historian, and founder of the Lavender Effect, Andy Sacher, viewing the de-emphasis of Pride’s history as a loss for everyone.

“We’re in every strata of society,” he says, “and this is the one time of the year when we have traditionally come together, regardless of our differences and celebrated our freedoms and accomplishments.”

But Council member Duran says CSW was being realistic. “People my age,” he told the Blade, “we’ve done 20 or 30 of these things. We’re not necessarily going do it again unless we have friends from out of town.”  Still, history matters.

Both Duran and West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister think the criticism arises from the belief that CSW is the only source of local Pride programming, when in fact the city sponsors its own One City One Pride Arts Festival, primarily focused on LGBTQ history and culture, for 40 days each summer, including Pride weekend.

Last year, the city sponsored events like Trans Night, the Dyke March, and a West Hollywood history tour created by late historian Stuart Timmons. There is more to pride than “just those two days,” says Duran.

Issues of transparency and communication have dogged CSW in recent years, with defenders and critics agreeing that CSW could improve its community interface.

Sacher was one of four CSW board members who resigned last December, in part because CSW required board members to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Sacher said, “All pride organizations face challenges to achieve a balance between taking in what the community desires” and sustainability. But in CSW’s case, “there might be a disconnect.”

After the 2016 festival, Mayor Meister arranged two community forums to debrief with CSW. “Were they listening? I don’t know,” Meister said about CSW. “It’s up to them to provide an event that the community is supportive of. And if not, we’re all going to hear about it again.”

For the first time since 1970, there will be no Pride Parade. Instead, CSW will host a three-mile long protest march, modeled on the Women’s Marches, under the motto: “When any American’s rights are under threat, all our rights are threatened.”

With supporters like CSW co-founder the Reverend Troy Perry, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, and activist Ivy Bottini (a vocal critic of CSW), Duran describes this choice as “spot on” and in line with the LGBTQ community’s history of responding to galvanizing moments, from AIDS to anti-marriage legislation. Like others, he believes the march is pitch-perfect for our times.

Even so, CSW has made another sudden, dramatic change to what people expect from Pride. No one can know how many people will actually march and what effect this will have on the already compacted festival. To Sacher, this decision-making seems “reactive, rather than visionary or proactive.”

This week, CSW board member and #ResistMarch organizer Brian Pendleton, told that “no corporate dollars that used to go to the parade are going to the march.”  Pendleton says he is committed to raising the money needed to fund #ResistMarch. Some reports suggest he must raise more than $400,000.  Sources say he has raised a significant portion of that.

Pendleton, when asked to join CSW’s board, pointedly refused to sign CSW’s non-disclosure agreement.

With CSW already running at a loss, the financial bottom line might bring the debates about CSW’s role as LA’s de facto leader of pride to a head.

Success now rests on robust attendance to the paid-entry festival and CSW ability to attract corporate sponsors to it. Nissan recent announced it will be a sponsor but few others have stepped forward. Wells Fargo, for instance, will not be part of this year’s celebrations for the first time in many years.

West Hollywood provides free security and sanitation services, but little cash. It recently agreed to cover up to $1 million in such expenses — doubling previous year commitments — though not yet satisfied with CSW’s transparency efforts and aware that the agency began 2017 unable to even pay office rent. The city reportedly stands to gain more than $5,000,000 in tax receipts if the event is successful.

Without the traditional parade, CSW will also forego entry fees from floats and community groups.

Given the sheer scope and diversity of the Los Angeles area, Sacher said the trend for more localized pride events, such as DTLA Proud and Venice Pride, is a sign of things to come.

“Maybe there will never be a consensus,” Sacher said, and “that might be fine.” Mayor Meister said that West Hollywood will be LA Pride’s home for a long time to come. And Council member Duran waved off complaints that other cities do Pride better. The entire city of West Hollywood becomes a Pride celebration, he says, “in everyday bars and everyday restaurants,” from one end of the city to the other. LA Pride remains unique.

For more information, visit Transportation and parking information can be found at

Continue Reading


California expands broadband infrastructure & internet access across state

The initial project locations based on unserved/underserved areas that don’t reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second



California Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

SACRAMENTO – Advancing California’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state has identified 18 projects to begin work on an open-access middle-mile network that will provide missing infrastructure paths to bring broadband to all communities.

As part of the historic $6 billion broadband investment advanced in partnership with legislative leaders earlier this year, the initial project locations are based on known unserved and underserved areas across the state. The projects will connect to the core of the global internet and interconnect to last-mile infrastructure, which is the final leg that provides internet service to a customer.

“California is committed to taking on the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities across the state,” said Newsom. “These projects are the first step to delivering on our historic investment that will ensure all Californians have access to high-quality broadband internet, while also creating new jobs to support our nation-leading economic recovery.”

The initial 18 projects represent a range of geographic locations and technical approaches. Projects are being initiated in the following tribal communities, counties and cities: Alpine County; Amador County; Calaveras County; Central Coast; Coachella Valley; Colusa Area; Inyo County; Kern County; Kern/San Luis Obispo Area; Lake County Area; Los Angeles and South Los Angeles; Oakland; Orange County; Plumas Area; Riverside/San Diego Area; San Bernardino County; Siskiyou Area; and West Fresno.

Evaluation of project areas included consideration of public comments, prioritization of unserved or underserved areas of the state, and inclusion of tribal communities, cities and counties. An unserved or underserved area has households that do not reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload of at least 3 Mbps.

“Core to our success will be the deep partnerships we’ve built with a diverse set of community organizations and last mile providers. Through many years of engagement with metropolitan planning organizations, CPUC-supported broadband consortia, Tribal organizations, community-based broadband advocacy groups, and organizations like the Rural County Representatives of California, the NAACP, and the California Emerging Technology Fund, we are now ready to take this historic step towards broadband equity for California,” said Louis Fox, Founder and Chair of GoldenStateNet, the state’s third-party administrator.

State partners implementing the middle-mile initiative include the California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Caltrans. GoldenStateNet was selected as the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to manage the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation of the statewide open-access middle-mile broadband network. As the TPA, GoldenStateNet will partner with key stakeholder groups across the state to investigate the best technical, financial and operational models to meet the needs of the project sites.  

A map and additional information on the initial projects can be found here.

“A reliable broadband connection makes the difference between having access to full-service health care, education and employment or sometimes going without,” said State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong. “Through a historic partnership between our Governor, the Legislature, state agencies and a third-party administrator, we are taking immediate action to improve connectivity for Californians in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.”

“These initial routes have been identified to accelerate projects in areas of the state that are unserved because of the lack of open middle mile infrastructure to serve them. We are accelerating the selection of a diverse set of routes — those that are ready to build and those that are not ready to build.  This allows the state to partner with locals on these diverse projects and learn by doing, as we concurrently work to finalize all the needed routes in the State. There are many more communities like those in Phase I that will be included in the final map,” said Martha Guzman Aceves, Commissioner at the CPUC.

Continue Reading

Santa Monica

Sen. Alex Padilla & Santa Monica College- Thanksgiving grocery giveaway

“As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important to support each other and our communities, and give back when we can” 



Santa Monica College volunteers & Senator Alex Padilla (Photo courtesy of Senator Alex Padilla)

SANTA MONICA — Ahead of Thanksgiving, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Tuesday volunteered with Santa Monica College (SMC) for their 2nd Annual GIVING THANKS(giving) Holiday Grocery Drive-Thru Giveaway.

Padilla joined dedicated SMC volunteers, along with state and local officials to provide fresh holiday groceries to 1,500 food insecure students.

“As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important to support each other and our communities, and give back when we can,” said Senator Padilla. “I was proud to join Santa Monica College and regional partners for their annual holiday food drive to make sure students have access to fresh food and groceries this holiday season. But this is also a stark reminder that there is more work to be done to address student food insecurity, an issue that existed since before the pandemic. I’ve introduced the BASIC Act to give students the resources they need to stay focused on their education. No student should have to worry about meeting their basic needs while pursuing their education.”

“Having Senator Padilla attend today’s event is so powerful because it raises the importance of giving back to our community,” said Lizzy Moore, president of the Santa Monica College Foundation and Santa Monica College’s dean of institutional advancement. “The Santa Monica College community is grateful for his leadership in the Senate to push for the BASIC Act and other legislative proposals to address the dramatic rates of food insecurity that exists on all college campuses including Santa Monica College.”

Even before the pandemic, 50 percent of California Community College students were food insecure.

Senator Padilla has been a strong advocate for addressing food insecurity and ensuring students can meet their basic needs while pursuing a higher education. This year, Padilla introduced the Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act, bicameral legislation to ensure college students are able to meet their basic needs while pursuing their education. Specifically, the legislation provides $1 billion for grants to ensure institutions of higher learning have the resources they need to support their students’ most fundamental needs, and directs the federal government to streamline data sharing across agencies to help students qualify for aid – particularly Pell Grant recipients and attendees of community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Senator Padilla also joined his colleagues in introducing the Student Food Security Act of 2021. This bicameral legislation helps address food insecurity on college campuses by enabling more low-income college students to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), improve data collection and sharing, and create a new grant program to help colleges and universities support their students.

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment

2022 Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Award Nominations

Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th.



It is Decision 2022! Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th. The top 5 nominees from each category will become a finalist with voting starting December 15th. Our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Awards Party and special issue on January 28th, 2022.

Nominate below or click HERE.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts