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LA Pride Celebration

LA Pride will leave West Hollywood

City Council is seeking proposals for WeHo Pride celebrations in 2021

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Estevan Montemayor, the president of LA Pride, and executive director Madonna Cacciatore. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

BREAKING:  This story will be updated through the day.

LA Pride announced in a letter to the City of West Hollywood this week that the organization is set to relocate the event to an unspecified location in Los Angeles. LA Pride and the Board of Christopher Street West (CSW), the organizer of the event, told the City of West Hollywood City Council “and other concerned parties,” that “as our non-profit organization continues to evolve and grow, we want to inform you of our intention to move the LA Pride Parade and Festival out of West Hollywood in 2021.”

The event, which generates several millions of dollars in tax-receipts for the City of West Hollywood, is one of the LA region’s largest outdoor events, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors, vendors, and major talent for both the Parade and 2-day festival.

According to an economic impact study from CSW’s independent research firm Beacon Economics, the 2019 LA Pride Parade and Festival generated $74.7 million in economic output and $42.2 million in direct expenditures in Los Angeles County.

According to Beacon’s research, LA Pride resulted in the following financial benefits: increased economic output in Los Angeles County by $74.7 million of which $27.7 million was concentrated in West Hollywood and $18.2 million in the City of Los Angeles; Increased labor income for workers in Los Angeles County by $33.1 million, including $14.7 million in West Hollywood and $7.4 in the City of Los Angeles; Supported the annual equivalent of 830 jobs in LA County, including 397 in West Hollywood and 191 in the City of Los Angeles; Estimated $2.5 million in tax revenue generated in LA County, including $896,100 in West Hollywood and $332,800 in the City of Los Angeles.

West Hollywood’s Mayor Lindsey Horvath told the Los Angeles Blade Tuesday that she “wishes CSW the very best in its future efforts. For decades, the City of West Hollywood and CSW have enjoyed an incredible partnership and, on a personal note, I will treasure the memories I have made celebrating Pride with CSW within our City.”

Horvath pointedly added: “The City of West Hollywood remains the heart of the region’s LGBTQ community and we take Pride in celebrating each and every day, year-round.”

When pressed on the suddenness of the decision, the Mayor said, “While this morning’s email was a surprise to me, it’s content makes clear this decision has been some time in the making.”

Councilmember John D’Amico recently added an agenda item for the next Council meeting which is a formal request for a 2021 Pride event. The item calls for a Request For Proposal (RFP) for event organizers without reference to LA Pride or Christopher Street West.

On his personal Facebook page Councilmember John Duran posted that “four weeks ago, my colleague councilmember D’Amico and I suggested that we open up the bidding to other possible producers for our annual pride event besides CSW.” Duran claims “their announcement was their response to our comments.” He told the Los Angeles Blade that “West Hollywood will continue to have its own Pride weekend as we have for the past 49 years”

“Santa Monica Boulevard and this historic Boystown district will remain the heart and center of Pride month as we always have,” he said.

Duran recently came under fire from Trans activists for his criticism of the non-authorized nor city permitted painting of a Trans flag in the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente, telling a local blog that protecting the installation “sets a precedent and (that if) a group wants to paint a Confederate flag on Santa Monica Boulevard, we can’t say ‘oh we agree with trans rights so that unauthorized mural can stay, but your Confederate flag has to go.’ His comments swift drew outrage.

LA Pride/CSW had attempted to organize a solidarity march but, after controversy in which the organization was accused of being tone-deaf to the needs of race-minority LGBTQI+ people, deferred to Black Trans voices in the community instead and canceled their plans.

On the day LA Pride’s parade would have been held, All Black Lives Matter held a protest march —one of the city’s largest events in recent years — along Hollywood Boulevard to Sunset and into West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard. The ABLM march echoed the very spirit of protest and the need for changes that were the impetus for the organizers of the Christopher Street March in June of 1970 in both New York City and Los Angeles.

With the departure of LA Pride, West Hollywood joins Santa Monica, Compton, Long Beach, and other communities in hosting smaller scale celebrations.

LA Pride has been a long-time fixture in West Hollywood since the event was founded by Morris Kight and Troy Perry in 1970, where the first event was held on Hollywood Boulevard. The event, both the parade and festival, is expected to return to Hollywood Boulevard.

2020 was set to be a banner year as the organization was set to celebrate the event’s 50th Anniversary. However, the City of West Hollywood announced in tandem with Christopher Street West in April that a live, in-person event would be entirely canceled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 2020 LA Pride was instead celebrated in late June during a virtual telecast on LA’s ABC affiliate KABC7.

LA Pride President Estevan Montemayor and Executive Director told the Blade earlier this week that the letter will act as their comment.

Full Text:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

City of West Hollywood City Council

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA 90069

To The West Hollywood City Council, and other concerned parties:

This year, Christopher Street West and LA Pride celebrate our 50th anniversary of organizing, honoring, and bringing together the LGBTQIA+ community of Greater Los Angeles and beyond. As our non-profit organization continues to evolve and grow, we want to inform you of our intention to move the LA Pride Parade and Festival out of West Hollywood in 2021.

The Board of Directors has decided to take this approach for several reasons. These include construction in West Hollywood Park, the changing demographics of Greater Los Angeles, our commitment to being responsive to the LGBTQIA+ community’s needs, and our allyship and collaboration with other movements for social change.

We are grateful to the City of West Hollywood for our many years of partnership and collaboration in presenting LA Pride. West Hollywood has been a successful home for the parade and festival,

providing millions with a unique and incredible experience centered in this city. The community we serve and our organization have grown during our collaborations with West Hollywood, and we have been grateful to support the city and its business community by bringing hundreds of thousands of diverse visitors to the city and highlighting West Hollywood on the world stage.

What began in 1970 as the first legally permitted parade of its kind, LA Pride has become a powerful and globally-recognized symbol of the LGBTQIA+ movement, and we look forward to maintaining positive relationships with the City of West Hollywood as our programming evolves. While the locations of our activities may change, we remain excited to explore opportunities for collaboration in 2021 and beyond, and hope West Hollywood can be part of a more diversified celebration throughout Greater Los Angeles.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the communities we have served for 50 years, we thank you

for your support.

Sincerely,

Christopher Street West, Board Of Directors

8687 Melrose Avenue

Suite BM48

West Hollywood, CA 90069

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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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