July 14, 2020 at 10:06 am PDT | by Troy Masters
LA Pride will leave West Hollywood

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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