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LA Pride Celebration

Huge LA Pride bursting with color, fun, families and trans visibility (photos!)

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department could not provide a guesstimate of how many people participated in the LA Pride parade Sunday, perching from balconies, lining the sidewalks and marching down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The LASD spokesperson said the helicopter was being used for a car chase and apparently WeHo station isn’t exactly proficient with drones.

But to the casual observer, the parade appeared to be biggest, most colorful, the most crowded with welcomed corporate marchers and the most enjoyed by all types of families. Two outstanding themes: incredible trans visibility and no obvious protests of Donald Trump, though the tens of thousands of happy, dancing, marching, hugging and loving LGBT people and allies was a clear affront to the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies.

In fact, other than the appearance of elected officials and political groups such as Stonewall Democratic Club and Equality California, the only really political statement, per se, was [email protected] Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo wearing an orange jail jump suit, followed by a makeshift jail cell and a large contingent condemning ICE detention centers and highlighting the deaths of trans women who died in ICE custody.

In an important show of political and humanitarian unity, Salcedo also carried a sign calling attention to the epidemic of black trans women who have been murdered. Nine black trans women have been murdered in 2019. 

Advocates for women’s rights – including passage of the long dormant Equal Right Amendment – were also represented and appreciated as the Trump administration continues its assault against reproductive rights.

The two messages reached a larger audience this year. For the first time, the parade was broadcast live on KABC7 Eyewitness News and live streamed for an hour after the station returned to regular programming. ABC is owned by Disney, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and always one of the largest favorite contingents in the parade.

But old Disney fans were probably shocked to see a live broadcast of gay men representing The Abbey nearly naked but for their revealing speedos. But KABC did not cut away – in fact the women commentators seemed somewhat giddy by the proudly exposed tight abs. Suddenly out came the fans, as the WeHo temperature heated up, seeming hotter than the low 80s at the time.

Fans screamed “Thank you, Adam Schiff” as Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump-Russia connection, started on the trek through WeHo. The parade, Schiff told the Los Angeles Blade, “is awesome. It’s so nice to be out here to celebrate all the progress that’s been made and all the progress yet to be done.”

At the earlier news conference, Schiff said: “The march towards full equality for all LGBTQ people has been steady, albeit all too slow. We must keep marching forward for the transgender service member whose courage has been called into question, LGBTQ migrants seeking asylum at our borders…and for so many who are counting on us to speak up.”

Out LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell sponsored Jaime Marin and Yolanda Rocha Rito, operators of of Casa Jardín de las Mariposas, a homeless shelter for LGBT individuals in Tijuana, Mexico.

“I invited them here to highlight the fact that the Trump Administration’s policies are hurting this community. Asylum seekers can’t get hearings because he’s so cold-hearted and racist in his policies,” O’Farrell said. “They don’t have the social safety net we have here. The Pride Festival always highlights the fact that there are other places where this community can’t live so authentically and out in the open.”

Jaime Marin works at the Jardín. “Jardín de las Mariposas is a sanctuary shelter for our brothers and sisters in Central America who are fleeing for their countries, afraid for their lives,” said Marin. “We started as a rehab center for the LGBT community, but since the need [for LGBT services] is so big in Tijuana, we had to expand our services.” These services include assistance with the political asylum process, job searching, and acting as a homeless shelter.

Out LA Councilmember Mike Bonin rode on a fire truck, keeping up a tradition started by his late out mentor, LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. LA Controller Ron Galprin—first out gay elected citywide who called for a boycott of hotels owned by the anti-LGBT Sultan of Brunei—rode with his husband Rabbi Zachary Shapiro. Longtime ally City Attorney Mike Feuer, one of the first on the scene at LAX to help after Trump unexpectedly announced his Muslim Ban.

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the first out LGBT person elected to the state Assembly in 1994, continues to receive a huge wave of gratitude.

The West Hollywood City Council, which has sponsored CSW since it moved from Hollywood, always receives applause. West Hollywood Human Services Commission member Jimmy Palmieri, Founder of The Tweakers Project, who coordinates the Pride #Sizzle sober party – also carried a sign calling for an end to trans violence.

Equality California’s contingent was so large, they needed three cars. Out Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was interviewed by KABC and bisexual Rep. Katie Hill posted several tweets about the fun she had.

And while the news out of New York City notes that the NYPD finally apologized for the police raid that resulted in the Stonewall Uprising, and Sacramento Pride had issues with Sacramento Police marching in uniform – LA Pride welcomed the Fire Department and their families and an FBI contingent from the local LA office, led by Dan Lathan.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti marched with LAPD Chief Michel Moore, noting that the police raids against the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake were two years before the Stonewall Rebellion and now the police chief is walking in the Pride parade with the mayor and Police Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa rode with out former Commissioner Rob Saltzman. . Chief Moore not only posed with other officers but donned a Disney Pride sticker, as well.

That provided some jovial competition between the LAPD and the LASD over which department wore Pride better since Sheriff Alex Villanueva authorized – and wore – a special Pride patch that caught the attention of local media.

Lt. Tonia Martinez was interviewed by a FoxLA reporter about the patch, then sincerely thanked the Sheriff for the significant gesture.

But the LASD outreach went beyond the fun patch. Deputies Aston Guasfall and Elizabeth Castro were handing out trans flags and the back of one of the Sheriff’s cars displayed the trans flag, too.

Watching from a place of honor was Metropolitan Community Church Founder Rev. Troy Perry, co-founder of Christopher Street West with the late Gay Liberation Front leader Morris Kight and the late homeless advocate, Rev. Bob Humphries, with his husband and fellow marriage equality advocate Phillip De Blieck.

“Pride means everything to me,” Perry told the Los Angeles Blade. “We were the first gay pride parade in the world. New York had a demonstration, nothing wrong with that – but we sued the city and had a parade.” This year, Perry was delighted at the participation of “young people [who ought] to be a part of the struggle and this fight too.”

He noted that LA insisted on a parade instead of a demonstration in 1970 to commemorate the year anniversary of Stonewall. “We’ve had all kinds of demonstrations,” he said. “We’re gonna have a parade – this is Hollywood!”

The LAPD told Perry, Kight and Humphries that they’d rather have thieves and burglars march down Hollywood Boulevard instead of homosexuals. CSW sued and two judges ruled in their favor.

Metropolitan Community Church founder Reverend Troy Perry is a founder of Christopher Street West. Here he kicks off the first LA Pride in 1970 on Hollywood Boulevard, where he will be when the event returns there with 2017’s #ResistMarch. (Photo courtesy Troy Perry)

“We only had three floats in the parade,” Perry recalled, but an estimated 1,165 people showed up, many with their dogs, including one marcher with his husky and a sign reading, “We don’t all walk poodles!” Others joined in along the parade route. But at the end of the first parade that June 28, Perry, Carol Shepard, head of L.A. chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and lesbian activist Kelly Longman sat down on the corner of Las Palmas Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, refusing to move until elected officials talked to them about gay rights.

They were soon arrested for “vicious and malicious blocking of a sidewalk with intent to do harm,” Perry recalled in 2017.  The two women were released but Perry spent the night in jail. After his release, Perry held a 10-day hunger strike at the federal building until City Councilmember Robert Stevenson and his wife Peggy spoke to him and Perry broke his fast.

Forty-nine years later, LA Pride’s response to today’s anti-LGBT environment is color, fun, creativity and alliances with a myriad of businesses that support LGBT equal rights for the community and their diverse employees.

In May 2018, after concerted reporting on the dire condition of CSW as an organization, the Los Angeles Blade posed the question: “Can Estevan Montemayor save LA Pride?”

It appears he and his CSW partner Madonna Cacciatore not only “saved” CSW but raised the bar for LA Pride events to come. Presumably they are preparing an After Action Report on what worked and what didn’t work to provide transparency to their successful strategy.

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)

One major new factor was opening up a free Pride on the Boulevard as part of the Festival that featured numerous organization booths on Santa Monica Boulevard (the Los Angeles Blade booth attracted more than 8,000 people) outside the traditional tickets-needed Festival. Bienestar conducted free HIV tests; GLSEN promoted safe schools and the too-often ignored bisexual community; Cedars-Sinai Hospital sponsored an interactive health awareness mobile clinic with information about PrEP and offered vaccines for Hepatitis A and meningitis at their the Health and Wellness Village on the Boulevard.

Inside the Festival there were a slew of different exhibits and performances from the artistic Trans Galleria to a stunning performance by Todrick Hall and a soaring kick-off concert by Paula Abdul on Friday night, capped by fireworks.

“I would not be anywhere without this community. The love and support you’ve given me leaves me breathless,” Abdul told her fans.

There was also the Dyke March and a screening of the documentary “5B” about the creation of the AIDS Ward at San Francisco General Hospital in 1983 by nurses who broke the rules and touched their incurable and dying patients.

Saturday night also featured major performances by Rupaul’s Drag Race alum Raja on the MAC Park stage, as well as rapper CupcakKe, Brazilian pop star and global drag sensation Pabllo Vittar, capped off by a concert by superstar Megan Trainor, who honored the trans community, the women’s community and reminded the audience about the importance of enjoying life even though “we are clearly under attack.”

On Sunday, a Tongva Two-Spirit leader offered a blessing and the Trans Chorus offered a song before the official LA Pride kick off, as CSW organizers and the West Hollywood City Council held a news conference to introduce elected officials and the event honorees. “Our city is the seat of LGBT pride for the entire country,” proclaimed out West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico.

Celebrity Grand Marshal Ryan O’Connell—a gay man with cerebral palsy who stars in Netflix’s “Special” who cracked everyone up with unending jokes—and Community Grand Marshal Phill Wilson, Founder of the Black AIDS Institute, and Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Organizational Grand Marshal, also shared a few words.

“I am so proud of our community because we strive to include all of us. We’re not perfect, we’ve never been perfect, but that is our aspiration. We understand that we are great when all of us are included, and we are all diminished when we exclude any one of us,” said Wilson.

“It’s so amazing to have disability finally be a part of the conversation. Being gay and disabled, stories like mine don’t often get told so it means a lot to be at the forefront and celebrating with you this year,” said O’Connell.

“We are here to celebrate our pride in our community, our pride in ourselves as individuals. There are those in our land who want to turn back the clock, who want to re-impose discrimination against us. We’re not going back. We’re not going to tolerate that, and we are going to win,” said Jean.

CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore recognized the eight black transgender women murdered this year and led a moment of silence.

“It’s a testament of our progress that today, instead of fighting division, we stand together in unity,” said CSW President Estevan Montemayor. “We only got this far by marching together side by side, and we must continue to march forward until every LGBTQ person is free from fear and oppression.”

And then #JustUnity hit the road. First the Dykes on Bikes roared up the Boulevard, a stirring annual event that evokes cheers of female power paving the way for all the politicos to follow.

Finally, the Los Angeles LGBT Center hit their mark and sent wave after wave of program staff, participants and their families out to celebrate their 50 year anniversary, including a float of Asian drums heralding their arrival—including just returned AIDS LifeCycle riders, veterans, and members of the Trans Wellness Center, featuring Johanna Padilla, 27, in balloon wings.

And while he has formally retired from heading his Black AIDS Institute, Phill Wilson is not far from the LGBT community’s mind.

Perhaps one of the largest contingents was the Disney Company.

Verizon was a major sponsor

MAC was a big sponsor, too.

Several companies had unique approaches such as having Glitteress, 27, and Hydra, 25, walking the mile and a half stretch in high heels, escorted by Kris Rollins, 34, for Delta Airlines.

“Pose” was a huge hit, especially with their stilt-wearing vogue models.

And then there were the young people, including little Jorge, who his family say “is expressing who he is. We are supporting his choices.”

Here are other LA Pride participants and watchers.

  • Austin Mendoza contributed to this story
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Pride Special

2021 Palm Springs Pride was much more than a Pride celebration

Everything Pride — literally everything — the pandemic had robbed from us was on full display-the first full-scale in person Pride since 2020

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Palm Springs Pride 2021 (Blade photo by Troy Masters)

PALM SPRINGS – Even the Palm Trees were sashaying this weekend as the 35th Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival freed the city from the doldrums of a pandemic that, while not exactly over, certainly felt that way, at least for a weekend.

Everything Pride and everything Palm Springs — literally everything — the pandemic had robbed from us was on full display, yet with an added zest: It was the first full-scale Pride celebration in California since January 2020 and people were ready to celebrate. Last year’s event was held virtually on Facebook.

Thousands upon thousands of mostly maskless people of every stripe swarmed the city over the three days from one end to the other, something that seemed unimaginable even just a few weeks ago.  

87 year old Dan Bertin wiped a tear from his eye when the Los Angeles Blade asked him why he had decided to attend Palm Springs Pride. “I got off the phone this morning with my son in London, he’s gay like me,” he laughed, “and he told me his husband and my newborn grandson will arrive on a flight from Paris on Friday next week. I am so happy, I just had to celebrate.”

Lydia, the mother of 9 year old Stanton says her son insisted they attend the Festival on Sunday. Mom told the Blade, “at this point he says he is gay so I thought he should see this.” Stanton, who was wearing a mask since he is not vaccinated, said he knew he wasn’t alone but he had no idea there were so many people like him. Pointing to other kid passersby he said, “Look, they are just like me.”  His mom corrected him. “Don’t make assumptions about people, Stanton.” He laughed and ran into the bounce house Festival organizers had set up for kids and his mom followed.  “I couldn’t sit this one out so we drove up from the border today. I’m so proud to be his mom.”  Stanton, she said, was born Stacy.

Tammy Green said the event was her first public event since Covid. “I am so damned tired of all this isolating I could scream.  I’m fully vaccinated and ready for some lovin’ so if you know any hot dykes you can hook me up with I also waxed just for Pride baby!”

Joel Stern and his husband Randall flew in from Seattle:  “We love Palm Springs and we love Pride so when we found cheap airfares on Alaska from Seattle to Palm Springs on Pride week, we jumped,” said Joel. “Yes, this bitch forget to book a hotel room,” snapped Randall. “So I made him splurge on $1200 a night AirBnB and we have a mansion with a pool and are headed back now!”

John W, a homeless and differently abled Transman who has one arm, said he lives in Palm Springs. He got misty-eyed petting Cody, the dog owned by Arturo Jimenez and his partner, LA Blade publisher Troy Masters, saying “I can’t have a dog but I love them.  I have too many PTSD’s and can barely take care of myself. But today, at Pride, surrounded by people willing to talk to me, I feel free and even the sudden loud noises aren’t triggering me.”

Scott E. from New York says met a “Daddy” on Grinder who invited him to Palm Spring Pride after a round of x-rated pics. “Honey, I booked that ticket and here I am, but he was a no show.  It’s fine,” he said as he grinned and gestured at a man of a certain age, “I’m sure I’m gonna be fine.”

Evan Caplan, who visited Palm Springs Pride from Washington, D.C., said “Palm Springs Pride was an opportunity to get away from everything in DC and enjoy the weather, the festivities, and the opportunity to meet all sorts of different people. It was a magical escape to party on the streets and feel welcome by everyone in the city. It was also a reaffirmation of the spirit of the gay community coming together after a challenging and difficult year,” he added. 

Tracy S. flew in from Nashville. The 32 year old Public Relations agent said he came out during the Pandemic and was too shy to attend Nashville’s Pride event, so he jumped on a Southwest flight “that cost nearly nothing” for his first trip to the desert or to SoCal.  “I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same,” he said.

Robin Tyler, the LA based 79 year old Lesbian activist and comedian, took to the mainstage of the event on Friday night and brought the house down. Her favorite joke of the evening: “I met a man in Palm Springs who said he was from Texas. Texas, where men ARE men, and women are nothing. There the right wing courts believe that life begins at conception, and ends at birth!”

Robin Tyler performing at PS Pride 2021 (Courtesy of Robin Tyler)

On Sunday, the parade kicked off at Palm Canyon Drive, slowly making its way to the entrance to the Pride Festival at Amado Road where thousands of smiling people, some still waving flags and their signage from the parade, drag queens decked out galore, young and old, Daddy’s and pups, lined the parade route. Dozens of floats, jumping to the blaring music with writhing go-go boys and some more sedate offerings passed by as merchants hawked their wares. 

Mary Rostow and her wife June watched the parade pass by waving at old friends.

“I am seeing people I haven’t seen in years and it makes my heart sing,” Mary said. “We haven’t got that many Prides left and it really means a lot to me that they pulled this together. June, who was wearing a mask that said “Vaxed” said “We really have a lot to celebrate”

Members of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (America’s first chorus consisting of Transgender, Non-Binary, Intersex, Gender-Non-Conforming and Gender-Fluid individuals) performed “More Friends Than You Know,” a stirring song about diversity and acceptance and empowerment after marching in the parade.

Alan Uphold, a former board member of the Chorus who recently relocated to Palm Springs from Los Angeles with his husband Jeff Olde, was moved to tears by their performance, saide the song “gets me every time.”

Many other local businesses and organizations also had a presence in the parade; a group with Planned Parenthood received loud cheers as they marched by, while Wang’s in the Desert, a popular Palm Springs Pan Asian Cuisine restaurant, mounted a red-and-yellow dragon’s head on the back of a truck. Men in leather hawked drink specials outside downtown bars, and hundreds watched the event while eating on restaurant patios. 

Milling about the nearly 200 booths, the glow on people’s faces told the real story.

“We have 4 bags of souvenirs, including the Los Angeles Blade,” said Drexel Simpson from Phoenix. “It’s our first trip since Covid and there’s simply no way to tell you how liberating it is to hang out with people, no masks on, hugging old friends, kissing them like old times and just getting back to normal. It’s like the Covid Liberation Pride. And I hope the world follows.”

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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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