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LA Pride Celebration

Lesbian/Queer Women’s Activist History Reclaimed

Lesbians have always been fierce fighters on the front lines

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Photo: Lynn Ballen, Susan Forrest, Mary Lucey, Keiko Lane, Alice Hom, Judy Sisneros, Marsha Schwemer (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

History has a selective eye, especially when presented from the point of view of outspoken men who believe they speak for an era. How many women do you remember from ACT UP? Ann Northrop, Maxine Wolfe, Sarah Schulman may come to mind as kick-ass activists seen in documentaries about ACT UP/New York.

But what about Los Angeles? How many remember the hard frontline work of such ACT UP/LA and Being Alive activists as Mary Lucey, who is HIV-positive, and her wife Nancy MacNeil, who started the Women Alive newsletter? They not only endured rough arrests by the LAPD but also worked “on the inside” the late L.A. City AIDS Coordinator Ferd Eggan?

Photo: Nancy MacNeil, Mary Lucey and JT Anderson (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Friday night, the couple reconnected with fellow women warriors from the late 80s/early 90s activist days of ACT UP/LA, Queer Nation, the Dyke March and Lesbian Avengers at Lesbians to Watch Out For: ‘90s Queer LA Activism, a multimedia History & Art exhibit at the historic Long Hall in Plummer Park, West Hollywood.

Photo: Among the attendees where original Lavender Menace Ivy Bottini, 91, kicking it with filmmaker Betsy Kalin. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

The exhibits were homages to the women of such activist groups as United Lesbians of African Heritage (ULOAH), Los Angeles Asian Pacific Islander Sisters (LAAPIS), Lesbianas Unidas (LU), Bi-Net, Transgender Menace, among others.

Sheri Lunn, former longtime organizer of the LA Dyke March. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

“The exhibit goes beyond the histories usually told,” co-organizer Lynn Harris Ballen says in a press release. “It focuses on Protest, Street Activism and Grassroots Community Groups, and we gathered material from personal collections and oral histories to tell these stories.”

The event offered an opportunity to remember some of those stories and to share the kind of love and respect warriors feel after surviving in the tranches of warfare.

Photo: Mary Lucey hugs Susan Forrest at Lesbian Pride Kick-off event in West Hollywood (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

“From the AB101 protests to Hollywood Homophobia actions to organizing for the ’93 LGBT March on Washington, ’90s lesbian and queer women’s activism in LA reflected the energy of the decade: dyke visibility marches, public kiss-ins and declarations of “we recruit!” says co-organizer and ACT UP activist Judy Sisneros.

The gallery show also features The Lesbian Avengers: 25th Anniversary Exhibit commemorating the founding of the fire-eating Lesbian Avengers during the historic National Dyke March in Washington DC.

EZ Tiger (photo by Karen Ocamb)

The event, which included music from EZ Tiger, served as a kick-off for LA Pride and the #ResistMarch in Hollywood on June 11. On June 14, the are presenting what promises to be an extraordinary panel discussion: GRASSROOTS ORGANIZERS TELL ALL! What worked, what didn’t, what can we learn from then that can help us now – in the current Resistance?  

ACTUP/LA’s David Reid, longtime activist (and birthday “boy”) Lee Mentley, ACT UP’s Helene Schpak. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Announced panelists are: Liz Friedman (Queer Nation), Alice Y. Hom (API groups), Lisa Powell (ULOAH & BLU), Helene Schpak (ACT UP) and Anne-Christine d’Adesky (Lesbian Avengers) with moderator Professor Yetta Howard, San Diego State University, former Lesbian Avenger, Boston chapter. The event is in the Community Center, Rooms 5&6 – Plummer Park / West Hollywood, starting at 7:00pm.

The Lesbians to Watch Out For: ‘90s LA Activism exhibit is part of the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival,  That started on Harvey Milk Day (May 22) and runs through the end of June Pride month. You can follow on social media @WeHoArts.

 

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Pride Special

Monét X Change joins Kiva to Celebrate Pride

Kiva, the sought-after cannabis brand, is following through once again with their second annual partnership with world famous drag superstar Monét X Change.

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Monét X Change via KIVA

LOS ANGELES – ’Tis the season of rainbow sponsorships. Pride partnerships between companies of all sizes and queer celebrities of all caches abound. In the whirl of Pride collabs, it’s important to know which companies are for real.

Kiva, the sought-after cannabis brand, is following through once again with their second annual partnership with world famous drag superstar Monét X Change. Monét went Live on Kiva’s Instagram Thursday evening, hosting a candid conversation with viewers on Pride, cannabis and how the two are intertwined. 

On her Instagram Live, Monét started off the bat by calling out other companies who “slap on a rainbow” and call it a day. Kiva is not one of those companies. This Pride month, Kiva has made donations to GLAAD and has pledged to continue their involvement and support of the LGBT+ community year-round, something with Monét cited on Live as especially noteworthy.

GLAAD is an internationally recognized LGBT+ organization that works ubiquitously in the worlds of entertainment, news, and digital media to accelerate acceptance and celebrate LGBTQ+ stories.

Monét X Change gained fame on the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she won Miss Congeniality. She went on to win (in a tie) the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. Working her way to the top of the industry, she is now regarded as one of the most popular and successful queens to come out of the show, frequently partnering with her pal from New York, Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen.

You can now find Monét everywhere in almost every facet of the entertainment world. Most recently, Monét released “Love Like This” – a beachy bop with a fresh queer Caribbean sound.

Joining Monét’s Kiva live stream was a colorful bunch of up and coming New York queens, including the in-demand Jacklynn Hyde, her leggy New York sister Tina Twirler and the crown-snatching Sabbyiana. 

Back by popular demand, Kiva is relaunching the much asked for Tropical Punch Camino Gummies. These fruity little edibles are a Pride spin-off of Kiva’s popular line of Camino gummies. A light, refreshing edible with 5mg THC per dose perfect for Pride month.

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Events

LA Pride breaks silence announces ‘Thrive with Pride’

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LOS ANGELES – After weeks of ‘stay tuned’ on its website and no real engagement with the media or the LGBTQ community, Christopher Street West Association Inc. the nonprofit organization that produces the annual LA Pride celebration announced its planned June programming for LA Pride 2021 on Thursday.

Pride 2021 activations are themed around the daily reminder to Thrive with Pride.

LA Pride weekend will kick-off on Thursday night, June 10th with a concert exclusively presented by and live streamed on TikTok featuring hyper-pop diva Charli XCX and a showcase of up and coming LGBTQ+ performers across genres. In-person concert opportunities are not available at this time. Fans and followers can follow @tiktokforgood and @lapride on TikTok for updates and advanced promotions. 

Further, a televised special titled “Thrive with Pride Celebration” is set for Saturday, June 12th airing 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT on ABC 7 Los Angeles, the most-watched station in Southern California, will feature special guests, performances and LA Pride honorees. 

“To thrive means to flourish and progress despite the circumstances. Pride this year is a moment for you to stop and breathe,” said Sharon-Franklin Brown, CSW board president. “It’s a moment to remember you’re not just surviving one of the hardest years in recent memory, but growing into your truth. This is why we were so intentional in our planning. We want to bring a moment of celebration, a moment to highlight the community, and an opportunity to give back. If we as a community can come together, even for a moment, to realize we’ve broken down some barriers put on us, it’ll strengthen our resolve to continue tearing more down for those to come after us.” 

“After an unprecedented year of challenge and struggle, I am so pleased that this year’s pride festivities embrace the spirit of the first pride parade and our activist roots,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “By bringing together LGBTQ+ communities from every corner of our City, we will uplift all voices and elevate the important work of the icons of the LGBTQ movement who sacrificed everything in their young lives at the time so we can all celebrate together in 2021. With a mix of virtual and potential in-person events, this year’s festivities will keep our community safe and connected while providing every Angeleno an opportunity to embrace giving and volunteerism.” 

In recognition of the incredibly difficult work Los Angeles social justice and non-profit organizations have put into achieving equity, actionable change and stability, LA Pride will launch a 30-day give back campaign to support these efforts. Pride Makes a Difference will highlight opportunities for Angelenos to sign up to either volunteer, or donate goods and/or money to local organizations in Los Angeles County. Pride Makes a Difference is a new program in conjunction with Big Sunday. As part of these new efforts, drop off locations will be set up all throughout Los Angeles. A list of selected local organizations and drop off sites will be available soon to choose from, as well as the sign-up details and commitment.

“Our utmost priority in whatever we’re doing to celebrate Pride this year ensures safety and follows CDC-approved pandemic guidelines,” continued Brown. “That’s why we’re announcing this programming first. Any potential in-person celebratory activations will be announced at a later date in the coming weeks. The more we put safety first, the more likely we’re able to plan big physical events in the future, including Pride 2022, where we can celebrate who we are, where we came from, and where we need to go.”

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LA Pride Celebration

LA Pride 2021 looks to be virtual with limited in-person events- maybe?

There have not been any announcements for plans for Pride month events in June

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Screenshot as of April 13, 2021 of LA Pride Homepage

LOS ANGELES – The months April and May are usually crunch time in planning for Pride events in any year, however the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shut down larger scale in-person gatherings as well as restricted smaller events in both outdoor and indoor venues.

This year, however, remains a question mark and so far there’s been no concrete planning announcements.

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that as the state has surpassed a major milestone in the fight against COVID- administering more than 20 million vaccine doses, including 4 million in the state’s hardest-hit communities, officials intend to fully reopen on June 15.

However, common-sense health measures such as masking will remain across the state. Testing or vaccination verification requirements will remain in relevant settings.

All sectors listed in the current Blueprint for a Safer Economy grid may return to usual operations in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements and with common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged. 

Large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed to occur with testing or vaccination verification requirements.

Pride would fall into the latter category.

A spokesperson for The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health echoed the governor’s announcement but stressed there were science and data driven caveats to modification of the Public Health Order allowing large-scale events and that systems would be required in place to protect the public’s health.

A majority of Pride events in 2020 were either cancelled outright or moved online as California was under strict ‘Stay-At-Home’ orders.

This year, even with the governor’s announcement there have not been any announcements for plans for Pride month events in June. The Blade reached out to the both the City of West Hollywood and Christopher Street West which runs LA Pride seeking information.

In an email, a spokesperson for the City of West Hollywood said that it is anticipated that the West Hollywood City Council will receive an update on programming for the celebration of LGBTQ Pride 2021 at its regular City Council meeting on April 19, 2021.

‘At this time, the City of West Hollywood remains in a declared local emergency in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite extraordinary progress in vaccinations and in opening certain sectors of the economy, COVID-19 community transmission remains a top concern to the City and to local health officials; this year there will be no large in-person gatherings, including the events we typically see in West Hollywood during Pride festivities,” Sheri A. Lunn, the Public Information Officer for City of West Hollywood told the Blade.

“Gov. Newsom’s announcement to fully open its economy is conditioned on the state meeting two criteria: 1) sufficient vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be inoculated, and 2) stable and low hospitalization rates. In planning ahead, the City must anticipate shifts in the timing of these policy changes and plan accordingly to ensure the health and safety of residents, business community members, and visitors,” she added.

For Pride 2021, the City of West Hollywood will host its annual One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which will take place with a series of virtual events that will run from Harvey Milk Day (May 22) through the end of June Pride month (June 30). The City plans to work with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to encourage and promote the efforts of West Hollywood’s business community during Pride season this year to celebrate in accordance to regularly revised guidelines established by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

So far there has been no comment nor statements from LA Pride/Christopher Street West nor has the organization returned phone calls from the Blade regarding plans for Pride.

On its website the organization simply says “Stay Tuned.”

The Blade also reached out to several businesses and a couple of LGBTQ organizations, all of which said that there had been no news or announcements for Pride planning as of this week.

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