May 31, 2018 at 8:00 am PDT | by Troy Masters
Queery: Oliver Luke Alpuche

Oliver Alpuche is the founder of DTLA Proud. (Photo provided by Alpuche)

Oliver Alpuche is a Los Angeles native and a pioneer in the Downtown Los Angeles queer community, most famous for his role in creating DTLA Proud, the now massive Downtown LA Pride festival. 

His work establishing it struck a chord with a Los Angeles LGBTQ community that seemed to be in transition.  As the historic population centers of LGBT life appear to be migrating and LA Pride briefly stumbled with its own purpose and identity, that shift gave opportunity to new Pride celebrations in LA, Oliver’s DTLA Proud being the most successful.

Born and raised in Highland Park, Oliver moved to Downtown Los Angeles in 2009 and quickly noticed it was lacking spaces for the queer community to gather. Within three years he began the process of opening Redline, one of the three gay bars that would open in the summer of 2015, collectively nicknamed “The New Gayborhood”.

From the beginning it was Oliver’s mission to provide a space that was not only queer, but welcoming to everyone within the LGBTQ community as well as its allies. It was his goal to open a neighborhood bar that the LGBTQ community could call “home.”

However, it didn’t take long before Oliver began brainstorming ways in which he could reach the community beyond Redline.

After roughly one year of Precinct, Redline and Mattachine being open, Oliver reached out to the fellow downtown bars to see if they would be interested in throwing a gay block party of their own; a grassroots movement for the community, by the community.

In 2016 Oliver became the president and founder of the non-profit DTLA Proud and launched DTLA Proud festival that August, located at Pershing Square in the heart of downtown. The festival itself was such a success it expanded to a two-day event in only its second year doubling attendance.

With Oliver’s leadership, DTLA Proud expanded to Night on Broadway, curating a gay block party that showcases all that the downtown gay scene has to offer, a capital campaign for a DTLA Proud Community Center,  and this year partnering with AIDS/Lifecycle for their Finish Line Festival at Grand Park.

In the last three years, Oliver Alpuche has shown his dedication and passion to bringing safe spaces for the LBGTQ community to gather, celebrate themselves and tell their stories all while remaining the humble LA native he is. (Up until recently he hated having people know he owned Redline let alone spearheaded DTLA Proud). As DTLA Proud heads into its third year, Oliver continues to tirelessly work towards creating a thriving and diverse LGBTQ community for Downtown Los Angeles. 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I guess I would say I’ve officially been out since I was 19 years old. I think the hardest person was my college roommate because he didn’t know me very well, it was a new friendship and I had to actually tell him in order to feel comfortable bringing my boyfriend over without pretending to be straight.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Harvey Milk.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?

The old Ozz in Buena Park, it was a place were I learned to be comfortable with myself. I feel like I used Ozz as reference when building and programing Redline.

Describe your dream wedding.

I would love a backyard wedding in the house me and my partner decide to make home. 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Housing – specifically high rental prices and the lack of new homeownership. I believe that we are losing the sense of communities because property ownership creates investment within the community and now only a select few can afford it.

What historical outcome would you change?

The last presidential election.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

When Madonna and Britney Spears (and X-tina) kiss. Sounds weird but it made me feel like other people would more easily accept me.

On what do you insist?

Equal rights.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Probably a picture of my dogs.

If your life were a book, what would the title be? 

Not Again, Part 2.

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I wouldn’t change anything because your sexual orientation does not define the person you are and I like the person that I am.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

That’s a hard one, I’m not a religious person but I do believe in a higher power.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

I believe that we need to champion for equal rights for everyone. There is no such thing as gay rights, trans rights or women’s rights: We are all fighting for equal rights because everyone should be treated equally no matter who they are.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Ice cream.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The stereotype that you have to be masc or femm. We’re all on a spectrum and wherever you fall, that’s the place you are meant to be.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Beautiful Thing.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Holding the door for a woman; you should open the door for and be polite to everyone.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The jackpot at the local arcade.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Don’t be afraid of the the skin that you are most comfortable in.

Why Los Angeles?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. This is my home. What’s special about it is that this city truly has a place for everyone.

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