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LA Pride Celebration

LA Pride roars to life in 2019

Staffing changes lead to cash influx for 49th annual celebration

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After several tumultuous years and struggles to secure proper funding for the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival, the Christopher Street West Association Inc. (CSW) is seeing an upswing in donations this year as it approaches the 50-year anniversary of organizing the event.

Several changes to the 49th annual festival marked a first, including securing new big-box retail sponsors, hiring a dedicated, salaried staff and securing a full broadcast of the parade on KABC/ABC7 News.

Estevan Montemayor is the new President of Christopher Street West’s board. (Photo courtesy Christopher Street West)

Christopher Street West Board President Estevan Montemayor said, “we have more sponsors than ever before, and more community partners in the parade than ever before. This festival has expanded in ways the founders couldn’t even imagine 49 years ago.”

Montemayor took the post of president in May 2018 after Christopher Street West Association’s previous president, Christopher Classen, was removed.

Shortly afterwards, Montemayor and the Christopher Street West board hired the Aspen Leadership Group to aid in finding a full-time executive director and operations manager in October 2017.

Madonna Cacciatore. (Photo by Gene Reed)

The Association and Aspen Leadership eventually selected Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore in July 2018. Cacciatore formerly served as the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s special events fundraising director for seven years, and also worked for AIDS Project Los Angeles, bringing an existing network of nonprofit contacts and donors to the Christopher Street West Association. So did the Association’s new sponsorship consultant Michael Ferrera, Montemayor said.

“One of the things I recognized when I joined the board was to move the organization into the next 50 years, we needed to pivot and have dedicated staff,” said Montemayor.

Hiring new talent was crucial, but it also meant the Christopher Street West Association needed to raise more money. “We have other costs now associated with the organization and we now have employees; we pay benefits and salaries now, which is new,” Montemayor said. “Between all that, the need to raise more funds is important.”

This year, telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless Inc. paid Christopher Street West Association $1 million to be the title sponsor of the 49th and 50th annual Pride Parades. The gift was “the single largest contribution we ever received as an organization, (and) that’s pretty incredible,” Montemayor noted. New board member Craig Greiwe brought the connection to Verizon with him when he joined the board’s new class in October 2018 and it proved to be valuable. “It’s really important that new board members and staff brought relationships, without them we wouldn’t be able to execute these agreements,” said Montemayor.

Montemayor noted that large brands such as Anheuser Busch Inc.’s Bud Light, Delta, Wells Fargo, and Mac Cosmetics have been with the organization “for decades” and aren’t a stranger to sponsoring the festival. That said, the overall volume of large companies writing larger checks is relatively new.   

Standard corporate fees for corporate sponsors total roughly $10,000 said Ghiyom Turmel, coordinator of Sawtelle-based game developer Riot Games’ sponsorship of Pride for the second year in a row.

“For me, it is important to be a champion for my organization and push Riot to participate in these events because representation matters. It all clicked when I first participated at Pride with my previous video game company gear and I had so many gaymers coming up to me, being so happy to see that there were gay people in the industry and that maybe that was a place where they could grow their career without fear of being singled out,” Turmel said.

New brands this year that signed up to sponsor the Parade and Festival include Johnson & Johnson, Charles Smith Wines, and Caesar’s Entertainment. Montemayor would not disclose how much each sponsor contributed, but said they are all presenting sponsors, the second highest sponsorship tier

Johnson & Johnson, Caesar’s Entertainment and Mac Cosmetics are co-sponsoring the L.A. Pride opening ceremony, which features a free evening performance by Paula Abdul.

Paula Abdul.

Even local sports teams want a piece of the rainbow cake — on May 31 the Los Angeles Dodgers will welcome LGBT fans to Dodger Stadium for an official Pride kickoff celebration. The Dodgers “have donated in the last few years,” Montemayor said.

KABC ABC7 News signed up to be the weekend’s first parade broadcast sponsor and will do pre-parade coverage on June 6 and broadcast live parade coverage on June 7. “The View’s” Raven Symone will be one of the co-hosts of the broadcast.

Montemayor said announcing the KABC showing was a big draw for sponsors, partially because of the potential to reach even more people.

“There has been a resounding amount of excitement regarding this, it’s an important step for the financial side of the organization (and) we’re seeing we’re able to expand our footprint digitally in a way people haven’t imagined before,” Montemayor noted.

Not only are event sponsorships key to the Pride Festival’s success,they can also determine the success of the Christopher Street West Association’s following year. Proceeds from Pride fuel other programs, including Platform, a collaboration between CSW and the LA LGBT Center that trains young transgender people to become advocates and lobby elected officials.

A scholarship for Queer Studies majors at USC is funded partially through Pride proceeds, as is CSW’s newly revived community grant program.

The program awards queer-friendly nonprofits $1,000 to $10,000, “based on proceeds from the festival and parade,” and was stopped a few years ago due to lack of funds, said Montemayor. CSW is fiscally sound enough to bring the grant program back this year, thanks in part to its robust new sponsorships.

Giving back to the West Hollywood and Greater L.A. community remains a motivator for the CSW’s new director and staff to continue its momentum.

“CSW has continued to survive because its story is so poignant,” said Montemayor. “Next year we will be doing more to raise funds for this organization to make sure it’s successful and always has a net profit every year,” said Montemayor.

 

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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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LA Pride Celebration

Madonna Cacciatore, Executive Director of LA Pride, exits role

CSW/LA Pride’s Cacciatore departs

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Photograph courtesy of Madonna Cacciatore

LOS ANGELES – Madonna Cacciatore, the executive director of Christopher Street West/LA Pride, (CSW/LAPride) has has stepped down it was announced Tuesday via a press statement.

Cacciatore was hired during the tenure of LA Pride’s then board president Chris Classen in early May 2018 and started on July 1, 2018 after Estevan Montemayor became board president.

Cacciatore had previously worked for Los Angeles area LGBTQ nonprofits starting out at at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) in 2006 and then as the Director of Special Events for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, 2012 until joining CSW/LA Pride.

On September 1, of this year, Estevan Montemayor stepped down as the group’s President.

While serving as board president Montemayor hired Cacciatore as LA Pride’s first full-time executive director. Together they were able to add experienced staffing for fundraising and operations, attract record breaking corporate donations in 2019, and expand the board with a mind toward all aspects of diversity.

Highlights of her tenure included an expansion of the Pride festival and parade and a free component called “Pride on the Boulevard.” Cacciatore helped launch the bid to bring the World Pride celebration to Los Angeles in 2025; LA Pride was broadcast for the first time on a major local TV station, KABC 7, a program, which was so successful that it led to a multiyear TV contract deal for CSW/LA Pride. In 2020 it was broadcast as a televised ‘Virtual Pride Special.’

Newly appointed president of the Board of Directors, Sharon-Franklin Brown said, “Madonna, thank you for your boundless contributions to CSW/LA Pride and the LGBTQ+ community and allies It’s with enormous gratitude I wish you well on the next stages of your journey, my friend.”

Cacciatore wrote:

I am deeply humbled to have been at the helm of Christopher Street West |LA Pride as the executive director for more than two years. It is with deep gratitude, a rich heart, and mad respect that I make the bittersweet announcement that my last day is September 30.  Beginning October 1, the organization will be under the executive leadership of members of the board of directors. 

It is important for me to convey this to you with honesty and integrity. It’s simple: COVID-19 has made it tough for Pride organizations across the globe to sustain themselves. CSW is financially sound and must remain that way in order to provide brave, safe spaces for the next 50 years. As a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, I look forward to the day when we can march and celebrate safely together again. 

In my time as ED, I got to meet with many of you in coffee shops, parks, at conferences, and we cried, laughed, held hands, vented, and brainstormed. It is through the eyes and passion of every person I met that I felt brave enough to carry this responsibility. I never took that lightly. I have always strived to stand with the most marginalized. Those of you who know me personally know this fight is very real for me, too, and know that I shed many tears for our community. I am committed to that advocacy from wherever I am. I also got to meet with and learn from Pride leaders around the world. 

LA Pride 2019 seems like a million years ago but lives vividly in my heart today. After months of listening to your voices, we were able to produce new, free events like Pride on the Boulevard, Oil Can Harry’s, Opening Ceremony, a blessing by tribal elders of the Tongva land, and the first live parade broadcast on ABC7, where families far and wide got to see their children, parents and siblings celebrate. We produced the first annual Fem(me): Fueling the Female Force Within event, where we jointly honored five diverse leaders with the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation.  We brought the Dyke March back to LA Pride.

The greatest thing a leader can do is listen. My wish in passing the Pride baton to future generations is that no matter who you are or what your journey, you listen and take action. Dig deeply into your activist souls. Don’t let up until we are all free and open to be who we are and walk without fear. 

It has been my honor to serve you. You challenged me and touched me to my core. You are the reason the role was important to me.

Vote. March. Volunteer. Unite. Take care of one another. That’s our duty.

My deepest love and thanks for trusting me with LA Pride. Hope to see you all very soon in person. 

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