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City of West Hollywood opens nominations for 2022 Rainbow Key Awards

The City annually presents awards to people who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ+ community

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Blade file photo

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is gathering nominations for its 2022 Rainbow Key Awards. The City’s Rainbow Key Awards recognize people who have made outstanding contributions to the lesbian and gay community.

Nominations may be submitted electronically through the City’s website at www.weho.org/rainbowkey.

Nomination forms are due by Monday, March 28, 2022. The awards presentations are scheduled to take place virtually in June 2022, which is known nationally as Pride Month.

Since 1993, the City of West Hollywood has presented Rainbow Key Awards to individuals and groups that have gone above and beyond in their service to the LGBTQ community. Contributions have come in many forms, including the arts, community service, humanitarian action, sports, medicine, armed services, leadership potential, benefit to the global gay and lesbian community, and more. Past honorees have included activists, artists, civic leaders, educators, community organizations, and many others.

Nominations will be accepted until Monday, March 28 at www.weho.org/rainbowkey

Nominations will be reviewed by the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and recommendations for honorees will be referred to the West Hollywood City Council for final approval.

For more information, please contact Moya Márquez, City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6574 or at [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

Q Con Queer comic con returns to WeHo

WeHo Mayor John Erickson & Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event as Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated this was his favorite

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Q Con West Hollywood 2024. (Photo Credit: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Over 1000 queer comic book fans hit West Hollywood Plummer Park for the third annual Q Con queer comic book convention this past Saturday, June 15, 2024.

The event was hosted in part by Prism Comics, the nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comics, graphic novels, and popular media. The WeHo Pride event had something for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, including LGBTQ+ books, comics, artists, and meet and greets with authors and cosplay personalities.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

This year, Q Con included special appearances by X-Men ’97 voice-over actors Holly Chou (voice of Jubilee in X-Men ‘97), Christine Uhebe (voice of Nina Da Costa), and JP Karliak (voice of Morph from X-Men ’97, available from 11 am – 1 pm only); Gui Agustini (voice of Sunspot), and Morla Gorrondona (voice of Lilandra). The actors participated in meet and greets and signed autographs.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

There was also a surprise appearance by actor Kevin Caliber, who starred in the movie Surge of Power, which screened at the event. Many may recognize Caliber from his role as Superman in the movie Superman World War. He also appeared in the TV shows Supergirl and Futureman.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

The event was larger than in previous years, with more exhibitors on display at the West Hollywood Recreation Center. The expanded programming included comics creators, cosplayers, panels, gaming, photo opportunities, and comics portfolio reviews by comics professionals for aspiring comics creators.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Creators at the event included David Booher (Killer Queens, Ghostbusters), A.C. Esguerra (Eighty Days), Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Sam Maggs (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Knave Murdock (Transcat), Josh Trujillo (Blue Beetle), William O. Tyler (We Belong), Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes, Hollow), Kendra Wells (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Qweerty Gamers, and more.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Special guests at the Prism Comics table included Tim Sheridan (DC Pride Through The Years; Superman: Man of Tomorrow), Rex Ogle (Free Lunch, Northranger; Four Eyes), Lee Dawn (We Are Frogs), and animated voice actress Valerie Rose Lohman.

West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson and Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event to show their support. Mayor Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated that this was his favorite programming in the entire WeHo Pride Arts Festival.

The event concluded with a cosplay costume contest. The Joker took first prize, followed by the Green Lantern and an Anime character.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Prism Comics:

Prism Comics is a nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comic books, graphic novels, and popular media.

Founded in 2003, Prism Comics is “LGBTQ+ Comics Central” at San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon Anaheim, Los Angeles Comic Con, other conventions, and online, providing a safe, welcoming community for LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ friendly comics creators, readers, librarians, educators, and families. Prism has helped foster many comics creators who have become major voices in comics and graphic novels.

For more information, please visit prismcomics.org and @prismcomics.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist. His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Final OUTZone patios removed from WeHo’s Rainbow District

During the most acute stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of West Hollywood responded in a variety of creative ways to community needs

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West Hollywood Rainbow District. (Photo Credit: Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The final four remaining OUTZone outdoor patios in West Hollywood’s Rainbow District were dismantled and removed this past week, marking the end of an era when outdoor patio dining spilled onto Santa Monica Boulevard during the pandemic.

The OUTZone patios were taken down from Beaches WeHo, Tom Tom Restaurant, Fiesta Cantina, and Trunk’s Bar, all located within walking distance of each other.

Beaches WeHo owner Jacob Shaw tells WEHO TIMES that he was able to work out a deal with Koontz Hardware next door and obtained permission to expand their patio area into their property line, so their patio area is wider than before the pandemic. Workers were seen on Wednesday taking the OUTZone apart and making adjustments.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Tom Tom Restaurant had to revert back to their previous patio space. The restaurant was also trying to meet a deadline to have the OUTZone patio removed by Thursday.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Trunks Bar had their seating area removed right after WeHo Pride weekend. The city also had the concrete K-rails removed, and cars are already taking advantage of the extra parking space in a spot where customers enjoyed drinks for these past three years.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Fiesta Cantina removed portions of their OUTZone but still needs to take down the wood paneling as of the posting of this piece.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Some businesses like La Boheme WeHo had the option to apply to make their OUTZone patios permanent. However, businesses on streets with sidewalks greater than or equal to 19 feet deep were not given this option. Therefore, businesses in the City’s Rainbow District along Santa Monica Boulevard were mandated to revert to pre-COVID-19 sidewalk allowances. They were given an extension to keep the OUTZones past WeHo Pride weekend. Some businesses, like Stache WeHo and Hi Tips, opted to end theirs early at the beginning of the year.

During the most acute stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of West Hollywood responded in a variety of creative ways to community needs as we all navigated the pandemic.

In July 2020, the City began a Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit (TOEP) program by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations while protecting health and safety.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Heart WeHo owners say club will remain open until further notice

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out

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Heart WeHo/WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Heart WeHo nightclub, located at 8911 Santa Monica Boulevard, is not closing anytime soon, say the owners of Beaches Tropicana, the new restaurant and bar set to take over the space near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard.

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out.

Beaches WeHo owner Jacob Shaw tells WEHO TIMES that a report stating Heart WeHo was closing after WeHo Pride weekend is false. He said there will be a transition from business to business and that Heart WeHo will remain open through most of it until they may have to close for major renovations.

Partner Paul Nichols added that there will be no disruption to operations and there will not be a farewell party because some partners are staying (Nichols included), and the partners leaving are simply going across the street to Rocco’s WeHo.

In fact, this past Thursday night, Heart WeHo had a busy night with a long line snaking around the corner for an album release party for Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo. There is also a Thank You for Pride Party happening this Saturday.

The Beaches WeHo team has formally announced that a whole new concept called Beaches Tropicana is coming to the former Heart WeHo space in the heart of West Hollywood’s Rainbow District. Renovations are set to kick off after Pride Month celebrations, with the highly anticipated grand reopening slated for Labor Day 2024.

“HEY BEACHES FAM!” reads a post on Beaches WeHo’s social media platforms. “We have some exciting news to share with you all. We’ve officially purchased the venue that is currently Heart WeHo, and Heart’s original partners Lance Bass and Paul Nichols will be joining the Beaches team. Together, we are all excited to transform the space into something truly special. INTRODUCING **BEACHES TROPICANA!”

According to the post, Beaches Tropicana will be their flagship headquarters, combining a full-service Cuban-American restaurant with an entertainment venue where guests can dine, dance, and enjoy top-notch performances, all in one space.

Beaches WeHo at 8928 Santa Monica Boulevard will also be getting a makeover and will be turned into Beaches Baja with a new Tex-Mex menu. According to a press release, the team is in talks with several high-profile chefs and hopes to make an exciting announcement once these plans are finalized.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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WeHo Mayor John Erickson graces cover of THE FIGHT Magazine

This interview delves into his personal narrative, celebrating his identity and the vibrant LGBTQ+ community he now calls home

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Mayor John M Erickson on the cover of THE FIGHT Magazine (Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson has landed on the front page of The Fight Magazine.

In this issue, a shirtless Mayor, being interviewed by editor and publisher of WEHO TIMES, Paulo Murillo, speaks about the gay male experience while growing up in Ripon Wisconsin.

The Q&A is part of an ongoing media partnership between the two news outlets. Space is limited in print, so stay tuned for the full unedited online interview coming soon.

Mayor John M Erickson on the cover of THE FIGHT Magazine (Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

West Hollywood Mayor John M. Erickson grew up in the small town of Ripon, Wisconsin where he faced the challenges of understanding his sexuality amidst a backdrop of limited representation and societal expectations.

This interview delves into his personal narrative, celebrating his identity and the vibrant LGBTQ+ community he now calls home as we approach Pride Month in the City of West Hollywood.

How do you identify?

I identify as a very proud gay man. I identify with the historical struggle to come out as a member of what was then the lesbian and gay community or the gay community, and now the full beauty of the rainbow we have today… I’m comfortable in my own body that way, and I fought like hell to be this comfortable and this out with who I am.

When did you know you were gay?

I grew up in a really small town … population like 7,000 people, and I knew I was different at a young age. I want to say middle school. I probably knew I was gay as more versions of LGBTQ identity were coming out on TV. You’re always so fearful of what that is because you’re othered in so many communities. By the time I was in high school, I knew I was gay. And before I went to college, I came out privately to a few close friends. Then when I was a sophomore in college, I came out fully to my family.

How did your family react?

My mother probably took it harder than anyone, but that’s because she grew up at a time when LGBTQ people were further demonized than they are still today. My dad was very stoic and said, “Well, you’re just so good at sports. I don’t understand what’s going on.” He didn’t get it, but I came to be close to them in individual ways. My sisters were extremely supportive in bringing my parents around. Thank God they’re licensed therapists, so they were able to work through it with my mom and my dad. They had a toolbox, and now my parents are some of my biggest supporters. I can’t do what I do without them.

To read the rest of the interview click on the link below:

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Micky’s WeHo fined for Go-Go Dancer performances on Patio

Micky’s WeHo was fined $1,000 & a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area

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Micky’s WeHo at 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard was fined $1,000 & a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area. (Photo Credit: Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – While local bars and restaurants in the Rainbow District hustled to make the most out of WeHo Pride weekend, one of their busiest times of the year, Micky’s WeHo at 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard was fined $1,075.00 when West Hollywood Code Enforcement issued an administrative citation.

This included a $1,000 fine and a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area.

The fine outraged Micky’s owner, Michael Niemeyer, who said he didn’t care about the money but found the policing of his LGBT bar inappropriate during a time meant to elevate and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community he serves.

Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times

“I’ve owned a bar since 1978,” he said. “I’ve had my face pushed up against the wall by police officers. I’ve had police batons under my chin while I was being made to produce our liquor license. I’ve seen people get thrown over the bar by police and ABC agents because they were ‘overserved.’ I think of all that when something like this happens. I remember police using their batons to lift women’s dresses to check if they were wearing female underwear. I’ve seen all of that.”

Niemeyer is furious that Code Enforcement entered the establishment during pride weekend, an event he says has been watered down in the past ten years and lost its meaning due to political correctness.

“It’s a big day of the year for us, but there’s a reason for the season,” he said. “People stood up and fought back. Over thirty years ago when I first opened Micky’s, there was sensitivity from the sheriffs and the city. They understood where we were coming from. They can do their fire inspections and safety checks, but don’t do it in the middle of everything. Stay the f*ck out during the pride celebration.”

According to an employee, Micky’s WeHo has always been allowed to have go-go dancers in their patio area for two main West Hollywood events: the WeHo Halloween Carnaval and WeHo Pride weekend. He said they have never needed a special permit nor have they ever been fined in the past 30-plus years, so he doesn’t understand why this year was different.

“They have never fined us before,” he said, asking to remain anonymous. “Meanwhile, look at the hot dog vendors all over the street. Why aren’t they being fined? I saw go-go dancers in the outdoor patios at Beaches WeHo, Heart WeHo, and Stache. Why aren’t they getting fined?”

Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times

Director of Community Safety Danny Rivas stated that information-sharing on code enforcement matters is limited. “What I can share is that City staff received a reported concern last Friday evening, May 31, that businesses in the Rainbow District may have been performing entertainment in areas where they had not received approval,” he stated. “The City’s code enforcement team works with businesses when concerns emerge, and the team always makes attempts to gain voluntary compliance.”

According to Rivas, a warning was provided on Friday evening, May 31, regarding entertainment occurring in an area without approval. “The following day, on Saturday, June 1, Micky’s continued with entertainment in the area for which they had been warned the day prior. As a result, City staff issued a citation on Saturday, June 1.”

He added that Beaches WeHo had acquired a special event permit allowing entertainers to perform, and City staff was not made aware of any concerns regarding Stache.

“Regarding street vendors selling hot dogs, City code enforcement officers were deployed,” he added. “They addressed unpermitted street vending, among other issues, on Friday, May 31; Saturday, June 1; and Sunday, June 2, each day between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. The City did receive reports of unpermitted street vending prior to the 6 p.m. deployment on Saturday, June 1, and we immediately responded to those reports upon conclusion of a late afternoon public safety briefing that day.”

Rivas also stated that it is important to remind the community that it is extremely challenging to address unpermitted street vending, as the State of California passed Senate Bill 946 in 2018 and Senate Bill 972 in 2022. These bills have placed limitations on the ability of municipalities to address unpermitted street vending.

Niemeyer says he disagrees with the citation. He thinks it is incorrect and inconsistent with past years, and he has every intention of contesting the fine with West Hollywood City Hall.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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WeHo Pride Arts Festival kicks off with Life in Pictures exhibition

This exhibition is part of the 2024 WeHo Pride Arts Festival featuring LGBTQ+ dance, visual art, performance, literary arts, & more

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WeHo Pride Arts Festival 2024 (Montage via WeHo Times)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – WeHo Pride Arts Festival kicks off Friday, June 14, 2024, with LGBTQ+ photography exhibition, Vitam Picturarum (Life in Pictures), exploring the quotidian – framing a snippet of everyday life of and through our queer lens. Expounding on existential issues, tribalism, creativity, love, joy, and more, from the humdrum to the fantastical, with a presentation of well over 30 local and international artists.

The opening reception will take place on June 14, 2024, from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Plummer Park, Long Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., featuring a DJ and literary performance by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng.

This exhibition is part of the 2024 City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Pride Arts Festival and the Queer Biennial, formed in 2014 with a mandate to present and champion a more equitable representation of ever-expanding LGBTQ+ and BIPOC diasporas. The Queer Biennial presents full-fleshed, alternative art experiences representing a wide range of disciplines, including art installation, performance, and film.

There is some free parking at Plummer Park. However, attendees are strongly encouraged to take public transit or rideshare.

Image courtesy of the WeHo Pride Arts Festival

WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024 at various locations throughout the City of West Hollywood. First launched in 2008, and formerly known as the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, this year’s Arts Festival will feature a stellar range of LGBTQ+ dance, visual art, performance, literary arts, and more. More information will be available in the coming weeks at www.wehopride.com.

WeHo Pride celebrations during June 2024 will include a diverse array of LGBTQ+ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. The City of West Hollywood invites community groups to take part in WeHo Pride 2024.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, West Hollywood consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation. More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay or lesbian.

Pride is deeply rooted part of West Hollywood’s history and culture. In fact, Pride events have taken place in West Hollywood since 1979, five years before the City of West Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality. The City’s embrace of Pride is part of its advocacy for nearly four decades for measures that support LGBTQ individuals, and the City is in the vanguard on efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level.

The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board (now LGBTQ+ Commission) and a Transgender Advisory Board, which each address matters of advocacy. As part of its support of the transgender community, the City has a Transgender Resource Guide available on the City’s website.

In 2022, the City of West Hollywood inaugurated WeHo Pride with programming that represents a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. West Hollywood is a community of choice for LGBTQ people from throughout the world and WeHo Pride embraces a source of deep connection for its LGBTQ history and culture.

More information: www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist. His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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2024 WeHo Pride Parade on KTLA 5

Tens of thousands of people gathered in West Hollywood on Sunday for the annual WeHo Pride Parade live streamed on KTLA

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The mobile Los Angeles Blade billboard advertisement truck marks the end of 2024 WeHo Pride Parade June 2. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Tens of thousands of people gathered in West Hollywood on Sunday, June 2, for the annual WeHo Pride Parade. Legendary pop singer Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, True Colors) was named the 2024 WeHo Pride Parade Lifetime Ally Icon and joined KTLA’s live broadcast.

The 2024 WeHo Pride Parade on KTLA was live streamed on Sunday afternoon.

Watch:

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Typewriters return to WeHo Pride for 5th annual Pride Poets

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Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – This WeHo Pride, be on the lookout for typewriters. LGBTQ+ poetry group Pride Poets will be standing by waiting to listen to your story and turn it into poetry, on the spot, for you to take home.

Pride Poets celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, an accomplishment for this first-of-its-kind program which uplifts the voices of LGBTQ+ writers in direct dialogue with their community. In an age of book bans and LGBTQ+ censorship across the country, Pride Poets gives the community a chance to connect and support these writers, and for the writers to serve their community directly and hear their stories.

You might get a poem from Lambda Literary Award-winner Victor Yates, who himself was a poem-recipient in the program’s first year. Says Yates, “I stumbled across Pride Poets in 2019 and was blown away. It was this moment of literature, and honestly a break, in the middle of the Pride to get to sit down with a poet and have your own life turned into a poem and given back to you – I knew I had to be part of it the next year.”

In its 5 years, Pride Poets has worked with over 200 poets to write more than 3,000 poems for the public. During the pandemic lockdowns, when festivals disappeared, Pride Poets operated a hotline that received over 500 calls during Pride weekend. “This was my Pride, this year,” said one caller, who was isolated in the hospital. Another used the poem written for her and her fiance as the vows for their Zoom wedding. And at the festival, one in every ten or so people who receive a poem cry.

“Writing custom poems for strangers is a revelation,” says Catherine Gewertz, a founding member of Pride Poets, who covers the education beat as a journalist when she’s not churning out poems on a typewriter. “In an age of isolation, it creates surprising, tender bonds that come from feeling seen. As the poet behind the typewriter, I get the gift of these unexpected connections, and the experience of deepening my writing in surprising ways.”

The group is the brainchild of Brian Sonia-Wallace, who started writing for strangers a decade ago at a typewriter and now runs typewriter poetry company RENT Poet. “We write at a lot of straight weddings and corporate events,” Sonia-Wallace says, “so it’s been meaningful to bring this transformative practice back to my community.” Sonia-Wallace has just been announced as a 2024 Rainbow Key Awardee for this work by the City of West Hollywood, where he formerly served as Poet Laureate.

Sonia-Wallace isn’t the only Pride Poet to become a Poet Laureate, with founding members Carla Sameth (Altadena) and Jen Cheng (West Hollywood) receiving this title in the years since the group started and helping to change the narrative of poetry from an ivy tower eccentricity to a powerful tool for community organizing.

In addition to bringing together established writers, Pride Poets serves as an incubator for emerging LGBTQ+ talent, supporting participating poets in publishing, performing, and teaching. Beyond Pride, members have supported each other in writing and beyond, from appearing on a game show together to attending a gay rodeo.

Ironically, many Pride Poets say their experience writing poetry is what has brought them to Pride for the first time, or the first time in a long day. Poets are famously introverts, and Pride can be overwhelming. Equally ironically, many of the poets have embraced their identity as poets for the first time since starting this practice. Many have other writing careers as novelists, journalists, screenwriters. Even founding member Hank Henderson, who ran LGBTQ+ literary series Homocentric at Stories Cafe for ten years, marveled, “I wrote more poems in two days at Pride than I had in the two years before that.”

Pride Poets will be at Booth 135 on Santa Monica Blvd between Huntley and Westbourne 12-7pm, June 1 and 2.

Confirmed poets for 2024 include:

Priya Chatwani; Syd; Catherine Gewertz; Victor Yates; Jen Cheng; Jay Baldwin; Alexia Jasmene; Michael Narkunski; Timothy Nang; Tee; DW; Valerie, darling; José Rios; Jeffrey McCray; Jair Bula and Hank Henderson.

Pride Poets receives funding from the City of West Hollywood. Arts Coordinator Mike Che says, “It’s rare that governmental art funders get to see firsthand the emotional impact of the projects they help bring to life. Throughout the last five years I’ve been blessed to have seen countless tears, hugs, and genuine smiles as a direct result of the amazing work of Pride Poets.”

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Sheriff Luna expected to march in this year’s WeHo Pride Parade

The third annual WeHo Pride Parade will step off at 12:30 p.m. along Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday, June 2, 2024

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Sheriff Robert Luna, along with other LASD personnel participated in West Hollywood’s 2nd annual Pride Celebration in 2023. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Sheriff Robert G. Luna is expected to march at this year’s WeHo Pride Parade kicking off on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. An email sent earlier this month invited all Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department members to join and march with at this year’s parade.

“All Department members are invited to attend,” reads the email. “Come show your support and march with Sheriff’s Department members, friends and family. We welcome you, your spouse/significant other, children, and family members to join us.”

Sheriff Luna marched in the 2023 WeHo Pride parade. He was joined by LASD sworn personnel, civilian employees, volunteers, FBI, LAPD, and their friends and families.

LASD group photo before 2023’s WeHo Pride parade. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

The WeHo Pride Parade will step off at 12:30 p.m. along Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday, June 2, 2024. The parade will Feature Festive Floats with Community Groups, Nonprofit Organizations, Local Businesses, and More. Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper will be the WeHo Pride Parade’s Lifetime Ally Icon this year.

The City of West Hollywood reminds the community and the region about WeHo Pride-related street and facility closures. Drivers and Metro riders can anticipate increased traffic and commute times; please plan to use alternate routes.

Street Closures will take place, as follows:

  •  N. San Vicente Boulevard closed from Melrose Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard fromThursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Blvd (Eastbound) closed from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive from Friday, May 31, at 12 p.m. (noon) through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • N. Robertson Boulevard closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue fromFriday, May 31, at 12 p.m.(noon) throughMonday, June 3 at 7 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Boulevard (Westbound) closed from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive from Saturday, June 1, at 6 a.m. through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • N. San Vicente Boulevard closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Cynthia Street from Saturday, June 1, at 6 a.m. through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Boulevard closed from N. Fairfax Avenue to N. Doheny Drive (including side streets one block north and one block south of Santa Monica Boulevard) from Sunday, June 2 at 5 a.m. through Sunday, June 2, at 5 p.m. for the WeHo Pride Parade. Santa Monica Boulevard from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive will remain closed though Monday, June 3 at 7 a.m.

Facility Closures will be, as follows:

  •  West Hollywood Park from Monday, May 27 through Wednesday, June 5 (West Hollywood Park will reopen Thursday, June 6).
  • Small Dog Park at West Hollywood Park from Monday, May 27 through Wednesday, June 5 (Small Dog Park will reopen Thursday, June 6).
  • Large Dog Park at West Hollywood Park from Wednesday, May 29 through Tuesday, June 4 (Large Dog Park will reopen Wednesday, June 5).
  • Five-Story Parking Structure at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • West Hollywood Library Garage at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Aquatic and Recreation Center Garage at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Plummer Park South Lot from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 12 p.m.
  • Robertson Lot from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.

The City of West Hollywood will activate its annual Pride Ride free shuttle service during #WeHoPride Weekend. The City’s free transit services, The PickUp and Cityline, will offer combined Pride Ride services that will operate over the weekend.

Pride Ride vehicles (both PickUp and Cityline vehicles marked with route/destination) will travel through West Hollywood from N. La Brea Avenue to N. Kings Road along Santa Monica Boulevard. Select Pride Ride vehicles (marked with route/destination) will also run to the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station as follows:

  • Friday, May 31, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. From 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. service will run to-and-from the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station.
  • Saturday, June 1, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. service will run to-and-from the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station.
  • Sunday, June 2, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 11 a.m. to midnight. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. service will run to-and-from Hollywood & Highland Metro Station to N. Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard due to WeHo Pride Parade street closures. Following the Pride Parade, once streets have reopened, Pride Ride will run along Santa Monica Boulevard between N. La Brea Avenue and N. La Cienega Boulevard until midnight.

WeHo Pride Weekend (May 31 to June 2) will include a free WeHo Pride Street Fair representing a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the annual Dyke March; free Friday Night at OUTLOUD; OUTLOUD at WeHo Pride music festival; the WeHo Pride Parade, and a wide range of community group programming throughout Pride month. The WeHo Pride Arts Festival (June 14 – June 16) will take place at various locations throughout West Hollywood.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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West Hollywood

WeHo City kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant

The City kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community

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City of West Hollywood kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant for Harvey Milk Day. (Photo: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.

Organized by the City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle and is co-sponsored by the Imperial Court and by Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District, the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant took place on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

José Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States, helped pave the way for Harvey Milk’s successful run for office, was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton, and founded the International Imperial Court System, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations in the world. The Drag Pageant competition will be hosted by West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle, and several drag icons will be honored. Judges will include Queen Mother Karina Samala and Emperor Eugene Maysky of the Imperial Court, Landon Cider, Anil Patel, Nyx, and Kyra Jete.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Pageant contestants included Queen Angelina, Bilella Fierce, Cruella Brazil, Bych Nastee, and Linda Recessionista. They were judged on presentation, talent and personality.

Pickle announced the winner at the end of the pageantry. And that winner is… Queen Angelina!

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

In addition to the Drag Pageant, the event will include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity, and typewriter poetry provided by Pride Poets. Pride Poets is a cohort of LGBTQ poets who create custom poetry for the public on typewriters. Pride Poets was founded by former West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace for the City’s LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2019. The participation of Pride Poets in this event is funded by a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

WeHo Pride Weekend will take place from Friday, May 31, 2024 to Sunday, June 2, 2024 and, in addition to the WeHo Pride Parade, will include the free WeHo Pride Street Fair; WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at OUTLOUD; the OUTLOUD Music Festival; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the Dyke March; and more.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024. WeHo Pride celebrations will include a diverse array of LGBTQ community group programming from May 22 to June 30 as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival is organized by the City’s Arts Division. The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors and the City’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for Nonprofit Arts Organizations, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Drag Laureate, Drag Story Hour, Human Rights Speakers Series and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival Weekend. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world traditionally make West Hollywood their regular destination during Pride season.

OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com.

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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