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Trans flag power-washed off WeHo intersection angers trans activists




A large trans flag painted at the culmination of the All Black Lives Matter march on June 14 was removed by the West Hollywood Public Works Department. The surprise art work at the  intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica Blvds was power-washed off the street as part of “routine maintenance and ongoing graffiti removal efforts,” a source told the Los Angeles Blade.

Apparently, the department was unaware of the growing controversy over the trans flag. They received neither word to leave it untouched nor word to remove it. The LA Blade has also learned that the WeHo Sheriff’s station had been notified about the art installation for the unpermitted march and visibly posted two squad cars to ensure there were no safety incidents.

The controversy first erupted when WeHo Councilmember John Duran, who participated in the march, arrived at the intersection and was surprised to find the flag installation. No one had sought a permit nor had regular protocols and procedures been followed to get one in advance of the long-publicized march.

Duran and Councilmember Lauren Meister expressed concerns at the Monday night City Council meeting  about the flag and took issue with the illegal flag painting and that traffic control had been provided by the nearby Sheriff station deputies to protect the unauthorized late-night painting crew.

Additionally, Duran argued at the council meeting, the presence of Mayor Lindsey Horvath gave the appearance of the city’s tacit approval.

Duran pointed out that when the City wanted to paint the Rainbow flag in the intersection, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) who has jurisdictional control over Santa Monica Blvd., rejected the proposal, saying no symbols or artistic expression outside of traffic control markings were allowed. The City then temporarily painted the sidewalks with rainbow colors for June Pride in 2012. Despite some public objection at the cost to maintain the flag, the city council subsequently approved making the installation permanent.

The controversy over the trans flag installation seemed moot after the Public Works street maintenance crew power-washed the flag off the intersection. A City source told the LA Blade that no instructions had been specifically given to Public Works by any City Council member nor had any instructions been given to leave the flag in place.

On June 22, City spokesperson Joshua Schare sent an email to the LA Blade saying:

Due to California state laws regulating traffic control, the City of West Hollywood was unable to leave this in place. The City must follow state laws establishing uniform standards and specifications determined by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which prohibits signs or messages placed on the right-of-way by a private organization or individual.


The intersection has been restored to ensure public safety in compliance with state regulations.


The City of West Hollywood is steadfast and passionate about supporting transgender and gender non-conforming people. The City is outraged by the disproportionate impact of discrimination and violence experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people and the City is deeply committed to amplifying voices, to raising awareness, and to creating spaces for education and empowerment.


Through its Transgender Advisory Board, the City regularly develops and co-sponsors programming. Flagpoles at the City of West Hollywood’s Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights Boulevards fly the pink-blue-and-white transgender flag, year-round.”

Horvath confirmed that if the painting organizers had asked her, she would have proposed a temporary permit, which she believes the council would have approved.

“I am not aware of the Sheriff providing clearance to anyone. I do know our Sheriffs were there, protecting the peaceful protestors, and I truly appreciate them stepping up to protect our trans activists and their allies,” Horvath wrote in an email to Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy Masters.

“That being said, I applaud the City’s response to this demonstration, especially since it was not a permitted event. I am a proud ally of the transgender community, and I have marched in the streets in support of black lives. If the organizers of this flag painting action had come to me in time, I would have proudly drafted an agenda item of support for the Council to consider, and I would like to think the Council would have passed it.”

Horvath continued: “We need to direct our energy to support activists who are fighting to protect black trans lives. We should focus our anger on the recent brutal murders of two black trans women, or the Trump Administration’s erasure of healthcare protections for transgender people during Pride Month on the anniversary of the Pulse shooting. Better yet, maybe cisgender people can take a pause all together and listen to our transgender family, center their voices in this conversation, and empower their work.”

Another controversy arose, however, when Duran tried to further explain why the City had no jurisdiction over the intersection or its content. After noting in his daily coronavirus daily update on June 16 that the installation organizers had not sought nor received City approval and that two previous City reports had noted the cost of maintaining an art installation on a highly trafficked street, Duran stressed the City’s lack of control over the ability to regulate Free Speech.

“Finally – although we may agree with the message of this expression for transgender equality – we would not agree with the placement of a confederate flag, or a Greenpeace symbol or any other random expression in the middle of our public streets without public input, proposal competition and a decision made at a public meeting,” Duran wrote.

“So while I understand that the painting on the street is part of the symbolic protest for Trans Equality – we are left with the choice to either let it fade over time and look horrible for many months or restore the corner to its original form.”

Duran added, “if we allow this to stand and possibly continue – we may not like the next painted message another group paints on the asphalt. If we remove one mural yet allow the other to remain – now we, the government, are regulating content in expression. And that’s a big No No.”

Any future decision about what to do “on those 4 corners at Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente” will involve lots of ideas and community input, he wrote.

Chela Demuir, Founder and President of the LA-based Unique Woman’s Coalition, issued a public “Hey John Duran” letter saying Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change took exception to Duran’s viewpoints.

Demuir excoriated Duran, reminding him of the history of the Gay Liberation Movement and the Stonewall riots that “made it possible for the City of West Hollywood and other LGBTQ+ cities like it to be what they are today. You may be disconnected from this reality; however, that reality is history—our history, your history,” she wrote in the public letter emailed June 20 to the LA Blade. “And because of that, we will hold you accountable to our foremothers and forefathers whose sacrifices you benefit from today.”

Demuir challenged the whole historic notion of “Boy’s Town” during “this time of liberation and civil unrest,” as Black people and the Black trans community are both “standing up to injustices and exclusionary systems” around the world.

“You mentioned the intersection of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevards as a substantial and symbolic space for trans people. However, if we look at the amount of geographic and metaphorical space occupied by gay men, including an area where the trans flag was installed referred to as ‘Boys Town,’ you know as well as anyone else the lack of adequate safe spaces for trans citizens is yet another oversight of the City of West Hollywood,” she wrote.

“Another element which quite frankly speaks to your tone-deafness to LGBTQ+ issues at large (which you a part) is your equating the transgender flag to the Confederate flag, a symbol of white supremacy, exclusion and oppression,” Demuir wrote, referencing  Duran’s Facebook post about government not regulating speech. “The transgender flag remains a symbol of inclusion and visibility for a part of the LGBTQ+ community which has historically been excluded; and, to be clear, this in comparison is a Trump tactic used to spotlight your ‘concerns’ from a blatant prejudiced and exclusionary perspective.”

The Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change asserted in the letter to Duran: “Your past and current actions, sentiments, and lack of leadership have shown the City and the community that you do not represent LGBTQ+ people, aim to erase the trans community, and are a poor representative of the city and its residents, businesses, and guests.”

They demanded Duran’s resignation from the West Hollywood City Council and promised to take action against him.

Duran – who started his legal career defending LGBTQs and ACT UP in Orange County and LA in the late 1980s and has served on the boards of LIFE Lobby, ANGLE, Equality California and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials —did not respond to a request for comment.

Karen Ocamb 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



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.



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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LA Pride breaks silence announces ‘Thrive with Pride’



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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