After nearly two weeks of controversy, the Christopher Street West/LA Pride Board of Directors announced they are turning over their proposed June 14 solidarity march to All Black Lives Matter, an advisory board of Black LGBTQI+ activists and community leaders.
The initial announcement by CSW/LA Pride on June 3, “to peacefully assemble a protest in solidarity with the Black community […]” rankled Black activists and allies who labeled it insensitive and tone-deaf, disrespecting the Black community, especially LGBTQI+ people of color. The now deleted press release suggested that CSW/LAPride had conferred with Black Lives Matter, which it had not.
Several activists took to Twitter blasting the CSW/LAPride announcement. This included community organizer and prominent blogger Jasmyne Cannick, a former board member of LA Black Pride, who had led numerous protests against the City of West Hollywood and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey over their handling of the Ed Buck case. Buck is currently on trial for contributing to the drug-related overdose deaths of two Black men.
“LAPride wants to show solidarity w/Black folk—and Black folks want that—they can come to where Black folks live. Don’t invite Black folks into anti Black spaces. Y’all had a well known and loved serial killer of Black men in #WeHo for years,” Cannick tweeted.
On Friday, June 5, CSW/LA Pride released a statement on their website apologizing for what the organization characterized as a “misstep” and announced that the organization was “reevaluating” its decision to move forward with the planned protest march.
On Monday, June 8, CSW/LA Pride apologized directly to BLM organizers and announced that it was in the process of turning over direct control of the protest march to the Black LGBTQI+ advisory board, which released a public letter that reads in part;
“[…] The Advisory Board is not working with CSW on pre-march rally programming but will serve as an independent body creating a program aimed at amplifying the voices of the Black community and allies. Additionally, in tandem, we will engage Black-owned businesses to help support and put this peaceful march together
We recognize systemic racism, implicit bias, and privilege permeates this country, and this includes the history of our organization. We hope to see progress and start with change from within. With that, CSW/LA Pride will no longer be involved in organizing what will not be known as the All Black Lives Matter march on Sunday, June 14, 202, but we are in full support. We will be there and hope the LGBTQ+ community will as well.
The CSW Board members who conceived the idea for the march began speaking with Black LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations in advance of the announcement, however, they had not been able to align directly with BLM leaders prior to the announcement. For that, we apologize to the BLM organizers. Conversations did continue and grew to later include leaders from BLM LA, and, subsequently, an Advisory Board of Black LGBTQ+ leaders has formed to lead the upcoming All Black Lives Matter LA and solidarity march.”
The Los Angeles Blade spoke via phone to two of the community activists who had direct knowledge of the events that transpired prior to Monday’s announcement. They participated in a Thursday, June 4 telephone conference call regarding the previous day’s announcement by CSW/LA Pride.
According to activist Mackenzie MacDade, she asked if the parade was a “Rainbow Co-Dependency Parade” designed to bolster CSW/LA Pride’s corporate sponsors and donors. MacDade also indicated that CSW/LA Pride promised direct engagement with the activist community, including having activists included in polling over the weekend of June 6 to garner support and feedback about moving forward with the march. She told the LA Blade that the poll never happened.
Marquita Thomas told the LA Blade that she and others on the call insisted on greater transparency from CSW/LA Pride. However, she felt as though concerns about the structure and execution of the protest march were not being adequately addressed. Thomas indicated that she received no followup on the poll nor had CSW/LA Pride reached out again since the Thursday call.
The Board of Directors of CSW/LA Pride posted the following statement regarding plans for the protest march going forward:
June 7, 2020, an Advisory Board, made up of all Black LGBTQ+ leaders was formed to move forward in organizing the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march on Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 10:00am PT in Los Angeles. The protest is in direct response to racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera bravely started a movement at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. They stood up to systemic racism and bigotry. We must acknowledge and recognize the many tireless years of service and action by Black LGBTQ+ people. The LGBTQ+ community must extend its support to unite against oppression, police brutality, racism, transphobia, and the many other disparities disproportionately impacting the Black community.
We are here to amplify Black Queer voices and come together in solidarity. Endorsed by BLM-LA and the Black Advisory Board, the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march aims to bring the community together to peacefully exercise our First Amendment rights and heal together.
Out of recognition and respect to the years of work and action of Black LGBTQ+ leadership and community organizers, Christopher Street West and LA Pride will no longer co-organize the All Black Lives Matter march. However, they are in full support and stand unapologetically in solidarity with efforts to dismantle racial justice, systemic oppression, institutional barriers, police brutality and discrimination of all kinds.
The Advisory Board will neither engage corporate sponsors from or through CSW nor official police involvement in organizing the All Black Lives Matter march. For the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march on Sunday, June 14, 2020, we recognize the safety concerns around COVID-19 and the pandemic currently plaguing the nation, and disproportionately the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, and ask protesters to take protective measures, including wearing face coverings and avoiding large crowds if you are at high risk or displaying symptoms of COVID-19. California Department of Public Health recommendations can be found here.
For press inquiries or more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Advisory Board
Gerald Garth, Garth Management Group,
LLC Brandon Anthony, B.A.S.H LA
Pastor Sammie Haynes, Vision Church Los Angeles
Paul Scott. LA Black LGBTQ Movement
Princess Murray, Compton Pride
Dr. Christopher Jackon, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles
Stacy Alford, MPH
Yuriel “Miss. Shalae” Young, The Glasswing Group