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LA Pride Celebration

LA Pride soaring kick off with Paula Abdul

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Paula Abdul perfoms on Day One of LA Pride at West Hollywood Park on June 7, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Chris Tuite)

“LA Pride: are you ready to have some fun?”

So proclaimed iconic GRAMMY and EMMY Award-winning artist Paula Abdul during her headlining set on Friday night’s inaugural LA Pride Opening Ceremony in West Hollywood Park. Judging by the night’s festivities, festival goers are certainly ready to let loose and celebrate the LGBTQ community this weekend at Pride.

Amidst rainbow headbands, sparkles, and mesh galore, thousands descended on Santa Monica Boulevard and West Hollywood Park to officially kick off LA Pride weekend. Free to the public, this new aspect of LA Pride weekend (presented by Johnson & Johnson) is a response to a community desire to have access to public Pride celebrations without having to purchase a Festival ticket. The event delivered, with show-stopping performances from both Abdul and Todrick Hall.

Adbul took to the stage in an hour-long set that dazzled the adoring crowds. Entering on a platform dramatically carted to center stage by male dancers, Adbul’s set took the form of a full production, complete with strobe lights, electronic background visuals, and dancers interacting with the pop diva. A storyline even journeyed watchers through Abdul’s career, from her days as a Laker Girl and fighting her record label to get Opposites Attract released as a single to her struggles with recovering from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

Paula Abdul. (Photo by Austin Mendoza)

Hits including Cold Hearted (performed as to give Abdul multiple sets of arms while singing), Opposites Attract, and (It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me were performed. Abdul’s choreography included, besides tightly-worked ventures around the stage with her dancers, being thrown back-and-forth through the air and jumping off a platform at least ten feet tall into her dancers’ waiting arms – twice. These stunts attracted rapturous cheers, but the loudest crowd reactions were reserved for the performances of Straight Up – punctuated by chants of “Go Paula! Go Paula!” – and Forever Your Girl, accented by blasts of streamers and confetti. All of this, and I haven’t even mentioned that Adbul had no fewer than six distinct outfits prepared for her performance.

Todrick Hall performs on Day One of LA Pride at West Hollywood Park on June 7, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Chris Tuite)

Todrick Hall was also no stranger to costume changes, showcasing four outfits himself during his set. Hall, known as a performing artist, choreographer, and frequent collaborator on RuPaul’s Drag Race, is also no slouch on choreography, matching Abdul’s moves with his own group of dancers performing flawlessly executed steps.

Emerging after a montage of his past hits were flashed on the screen, Hall opened with Attention, off his new EP Haus Party, Part 1. He continued in a leather unicorn number for Dem Beats, to the thrill of the thousands gathered. Hall and his troupe then showed off their versatile choreo over a melody of 90s classics in a show-within-a-show full of nostalgia and witty visuals. Closing with Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels (also played multiple times as dance music throughout the night as the song du jour of LA Pride), Hall brought out the fans, emblazoned with timely rainbow colors as audience members clapped along.

John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath, John Heilman, Lauren Meister and John Jude Duran at West Hollywood Park. (Photo by Jon Viscott for LA Pride)

Prior to the performances, local elected officials and Christopher Street West organizers officially kicked off LA Pride in a ceremony full of pomp and circumstance, after witnessing a blessing over the festival by a Tongva Two-Spirit leader. Joining stage host Billy Francesca between the musical sets, they expressed their gratitude and support of the West Hollywood community.

“Our city is the seat of LGBT pride for the entire country,” proclaimed West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey Horvath concurred: “We gather together today – but we celebrate Pride here all year long.”

“We’re celebrating fifty years of the Stonewall Riots…this weekend, we’re celebrating all of the victories we’ve achieved,” said Estevan Montemayor, Board President of Christopher Street West.

Christopher Street West Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore, Paula Abdul and Christopher Street West President Estevan Montemayor pose on the Red Carpet on day one of LA Pride at West Hollywood Park on June 7, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Chris Tuite)

Francesca affirmed this in pointing out one of the more simple, yet highly meaningful of these victories. “There are so many parts of the world where [being LGBTQ] is not the norm. How cool is it that this is a place where it’s the norm?”

While not offering all of the booths and events that will grace the Festival grounds on Saturday and Sunday, Friday’s Opening Ceremony had activities throughout the grounds in addition to the main stage happenings. A vogue ball was held on the smaller MAC Stage, featuring local ball culture leaders and a performance by drag queen Kornbread Jeté. Over on the Plaza Stage, Verizon Media premiered 5B, a documentary about the work of nurses and caregivers at America’s first AIDS ward unit in San Francisco. Outside the Festival grounds, LGBTQ women paraded down Santa Monica Boulevard in the annual Dyke March.

Adbul capped off the night’s festivities by expressing her gratitude to her loyal LGBTQ fans, as fireworks exploded above her in the West Hollywood sky. “I would not be anywhere without this community. The love and support you’ve given me leaves me breathless.”

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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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