Opinion: LA Pride Becomes More Expensive and Less Inclusive

Ah, the good old days of Pride. Pride was a once-a-year event to celebrate our diversity. We would march to honor our community. We marched to show our unity. We marched to honor loved ones lost to AIDS, marched against a government that would not recognize our love or our equality. Then we celebrated at a festival that was accessible to all and celebrated by all.

Most of us inside West Hollywood’s borders have heard complaints about past LA Pride Festivals. Many residents complained that the festival had grown to be one drug drunk party. Ticket prices had skyrocketed to $25 a person at the gate. The event that cost the taxpayers of West Hollywood almost $600,000 seemed to have lost its way. In 2014, the City Council got involved to answer community concerns and formed an oversight subcommittee of Council members John Duran and John D’Amico to listen to residents and work with Christopher Street West (CSW) to create a festival that would live up to the expectations many of us share.

Larry Block, The Block Party, West Hollywood City Council candidate
Larry Block

What followed was a gigantic shake up at CSW that saw resignations of old board members and the election of new ones. Community outreach followed, and at those meetings many echoed what we would like to see happen at the Festival. What was suggested by myself and others include more events for woman, more inclusiveness of senior citizens, expanding Pride to include events at Plummer Park, highlighting gay artists and culture, lowering ticket prices and fostering more inclusion. It was hard not to be optimistic listening to the speakers at the few past City Council meetings lauding praise on the Council for a fantastic working relationship with CSW. I became very excited for this year’s Pride.

The other day, when ticket prices were made public, my heart sank. $35 for a one-day ticket! The free Friday night admission eliminated. And LA Pride is now renamed LA Pride Music Festival and Parade. Instead of inclusiveness many will not be able to afford admission to the festival. Instead of celebrating our diversity, a new VIP area ($150 a ticket if purchased after June 3, with “exclusive bar and dining options with seating and upgraded restroom facilities”) for exclusive gays and City Council members will separate some of us from the rest of us. My suggestion to open to all the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard from San Vicente to Hancock for gay vendors and non-profits has fallen on deaf ears. We have failed miserably to make Pride more inclusive.

During planning for #Sizzle, the sober Pride event, some questioned whether to separate the #Sizzle sober zone or open it to all. After last year’s #Sizzle some people said they were bothered by the intoxication around the sober area. But we decided inclusion was more important than exclusion, and #Sizzle remains open to all. Now, however, one has to pay $35 admission to celebrate his or her sobriety at #Sizzle.

West Hollywood taxpayers already front about $700,000 to CSW in direct costs and waived fees for this fabulous event (about $100,000 is reimbursed to the city). That works out to almost $20 a head based on Pride attendance estimates.So it just doesn’t seem fair that West Hollywood residents who tolerate the Pride weekend traffic and noise but can’t afford a $35 ticket are shut out of a community festival already heavily supported by the city. What we are getting for our city’s money doesn’t seem like a celebration of our diversity.

Who hijacked our Pride, now nicknamed GayChella, a gay version of Coachella and a seeming replacement for the failed Sunset Music Festival? What happened to that Council subcommittee oversight? And why that VIP section, which looks like Pride’s version of the rich real estate developer’s “poor door” apartment building? I’m furious.

At the rate CSW is going, next year daily ticket prices will be $50, $100 for a weekend pass and $1,000 for VIP admission. Should Christopher Street West be driven by money? Isn’t a 501 c(3) non-profit? And where does this money go? CSW has failed to reveal its financial records from 2014 or 2015. Yet our City Council approved over $600,000 of our taxpayer dollars to support LA Pride. Almost 20 bucks a head!

If the City Council cannot work with LA Pride to include West Hollywood branding in its advertising and promotional materials, and if LA Pride cannot offer West Hollywood residents a preferred ticket price of $10, I want my $20 back!

  1. Hello guy:

    This pride wasn’t proud because all program did suck, organise did not include good package to start. The line was horrible, even the VIP if that would you call it rferferfema, give you to much issue that ever you can have. I UNDERSTAND the part of safety checking you inn, but over do it all the time not having more worker’s. WE pay the balance your employees. There was bigger issue ID problem from another country not valid there, but are money does (?) Everybody pay the part to be equal right or you telling become drump is part of this festival. Think about it what I when through be proud this community getting bad. There is discrimination all over this area still. I THAT TIME HAVE CHANGE FOR US GAY PEOPLE.

  2. I am saddened by the comments and the content of this opinion piece. The mindset of such banter is less inclusive and of a 1980s world. It is L.A. Pride hosted by the City of West Hollywood. When I left the military, I started frequenting West Hollywood because I felt safe and accepted. It is now 2016, don’t ask don’t tell is gone, and the law of the land gives me the right to marry my boyfriend; however, after reading this opinion and comments, it’s seems many in West Hollywood want to take a note out of Trump’s campaign and build a wall around this iconic city. With social media, and the strides made for equality and acceptance (it would have been unheard-of to have artist of such caliber who are allies. In fact, as pointed out, many of the artist are LGBT and reach a far broader and vast audience of LGBT youth and young adults than could have been imaginedoing 25 or even 10 years ago. I didn’t hear this much disdain when Paris Hilton was Grand Marshal, but this year, with Jewel being honored wi the the title and such an open and inclusive campaign and lineup, you want to raise your privileged voice? Shame on you and those who are of the same mind: this is the most thought out and inclusive L.A. Pride I have seen in my nearly half a century on this planet.

    1. Donald, unfortunately you need to go back re-read the article and all the comments because trans people were being and felt left out, residents felt not heard and many had valuable feedback and comments that rang true where LA Pride came back and made adjustments. Your comments are glossing over what had really transpired and you basically cherry picked what you thought was important. People in our community want things to be open and equal for everyone and they also want things to be affordable for everyone. Pride is for everyone.

  3. As a gay musician in LA, I have long lamented the lack of local talent on the mainstage. There seems to be zero support from this faction of our community for openly gay musicians who do not play pop or EDM. Now it feels like an outright exclusion. And the price is unconscionable. Because of this, I’ve partnered with the Viper Room to offer an affordable alternative: 11 bands with members who are gay over two nights, June 10th and 11th for $10 a night ($15 for both nights). If you feel as marginalized as we do, please join us as we showcase the talent in our community that this pride committee has seen fit to ignore.

  4. David Keesey: Many great suggestions! However, remember what is “old, tired and the same floats each year” to you, is not for that kid (or 50 year old) just coming out, who has never seen it before. I still remember my first pride, and the overwhelming awe as our contingent turned on Santa Monica Blvd, with tens of thousands of people cheering its on.

  5. They want us to pay $35 to be corralled inside a chainlink fence for a “music festival” with a lame lineup and NO COUNTRY PAVILION?! Have fun with that. I’ll hit Long Beach instead.

  6. Sounds like a little dirty business to me… I have no interest in ever attending this or any Pride events. I think they’re ancient events that are no longer relevant or needed in the 21st Century. Half naked people prancing around is not what I would call a sense of pride… it’s the imagery the conservative right loves to use to portray us as depraved and perverted. WeHo can keep its Pride event and all the debauchery that comes with it. #overit #embarrassing

  7. I never understood why LA pride was always confined to Weho. San Diego, San Francisco, Long Beach all have sprawling festivals that canvass multiple neighborhoods. Why LA crams the festival in that tiny area off San Vicente I will never understand.

  8. I’ve been attending Pride since Hollywood Blvd on Cherokee Blvd. It’s time to let the parade go, it’s old, tired and the same floats each year. Instead of charging money for these organizations to participate in the parade, put that money into a huge GAY PRIDE street carnival in downtown LA, similar to the street fair in Silverlake. If it was on Broadway think about opening some of the old theaters to entertainment. The streets are wider, mass transit is close by with the major subways a blink of an eye away. DTLA is trendy with a nice gay life happening. It’s time for all of us to ALL come together as one. Frankly, I’m saddened by the exclusion at these type of events. Include a Piano bar area for our seniors and whomever else with tables and waiter service. I’d pay extra to sit and be served! I’m a senior too! Include local entertainment of all genres (a great way for new artists to get recognized), drag shows too (because I love them), I miss the Queen Mary! Invite the local DTLA restaurants (no greasy spoons) to serve at the festival, micro breweries, local wine companies and liquor companies. Set-up profit and non-profit booths along with an area for dancing and most importantly ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives so everyone remembers where we came from and how far we’ve come. This for me is one of the most important factors when we put on celebrations like this. Charge a reasonable fee with a ticket for a drink, Student discounts, senior discounts and free to handicap citizens. I’ve done fundraising at various non-profit groups for many years and certainly know you can get various underwriters to throw their money where their mouth is. The drug companies who are making billions off of us should step up and be accountable as should the alcohol companies for sponsoring part of it. Include Vegan and organic restaurants. I could go on,and on…It’s just time to upgrade AND TAKE PRIDE!

  9. So disappointing, this is the first I’m hearing about the cost being $35. That takes it off the list as a possibility of going for me. The cost was already questionable in years past, so any increase is out of the question. I’ll still be there for the parade and to patronize the bars but won’t go to the festival and I know most of my friends won’t either. They have the wrong attitude for the event as others have stated. West Hollywood is a wealthy city and furthering elitism in this type of city event is the wrong direction.

  10. What’s the point of any of this discussion? Whoever in LA needs to pay to go into a “gay-friendly” space, a closet of our own making? And why “Christopher Street West” where the Black Cat/Harry Hay and other LA gay history scream out for no need of NYC verification? WeHo has commodified homosexuality as a touristic theme/destination with homos all uptight about parking permits and other idiotic issues, except as they affect working class men and women servicing the local and visiting gay population.

  11. To Manny’s point – He’s correct, parking permit requirements should not be lifted on (what used to be) Gay Pride weekend.

  12. So what is the plan, Larry? Can you organize a petition that can be circulated through social media to demand change? While it may be too late for things to change this year, it’s not too late to stage a massive boycott for this year’s event, because without that, there will be zero incentive for next year to be different.

    The changes being made feel squarely aligned with the lack of understanding the younger generation has with the significance of Pride. I’m not saying “the kids need to know” – that’s up to the kids – but for the rest of us who are part of history, this event feels marginalizing and disrespectful. And I gather from the numerous remarks above that this is at the core of why a boycott needs to happen.

    The progress we have made is extraordinary, but you can’t fully appreciate the progress without acknowledging the past.

  13. These are worthy questions. Why isn’t the focus on Pride? A music festival can be anywhere and the event is no longer inclusive.

    Why doesn’t the City focus the $600,000 in funds on Gay-related matters central to our city?

    The crucial observation, “I’d rather attend [other Pride events because] they are smaller, more accessible, more affordable and more personal” speaks volumes about the gaping philosophical hole in the local evolution of our Gay Pride event.

    West Hollywood’s effective social voice should not be diffused.

  14. So basically LA Pride has become a reflection of the community in which it resides. “A” gays separated from lower income gays by their own their own self-imposed exclusivity. Will they import more Latino strippers to entertain the white, overprivileged queens? Might as well just hold the whole thing at Mickey’s!

  15. There’s nothing to be proud of at the new LA Pride.
    It is no longer a celebration and remembrance of how far we as a community have come from the days of hiding in the shadows in pre-1969 stonewall to full visibility in 2016. LA Pride now a big drunken party that demands a $35 entry fee that now wants to reinvent itself as a music festival. The people who fought and died for our visibility are spinning in their graves.
    Seeing a potential for more revenue, the city might start charging an entrance fee for the Halloween festival as well. I wouldn’t put it past them.

  16. This “Music Festival” isn’t what we bargained for when we gave away our residential permit parking privileges.

    Our residential neighborhoods should NOT continue to be free parking lots for these enormous, over-capacity events.


  17. Times they are a changing and so must the look and feel of the festival. But it os a featival afterall. i see both sides of the coin. Happy and sad. Right and wrong. Such is life.

  18. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve managed to influence Larry Block in some strange way? Yes I think he is very right objecting to the Pride celebrations being focused on capitalist promotions as opposed to inclusion, though I am well aware he didn’t quite put it that way. Many times oppressed minority groups attempt to embrace elite values of capitalism and seek to distance themselves from other oppressed groups in an effort to gain acceptance of those in power. Like most reactionary strategies it provides a temporary quick fix that results in a complete failure in the long run, many times not all that long. Many Muslims are quick to flaunt their success in Higher Education and wealth attained through free market capitalism (please note that I have argued that “free market capitalism” is a mythical social construct) while distancing themselves from other oppressed groups who are marginalized as having personal failures do to their inability to attain the very same level of success. All this has NOT prevented them from becoming the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the long run! I would argue that it’s the result of contradictions inherent in capitalism if left un-managed are distend for failure, those in power are hardly going to stand up to assume responsibility for the failures of their beloved pet system and, what better than an unpopular scapegoat to divert the people’s attention away from the real problems? Especially if those problems are what generates considerable wealth for those in power.

    This all to common problem of an oppressed minority group seeking acceptance from the oppressors in real positions of power (seen clearly in West Hollywood’s LGBT community) is not entirely the result of a moral failing on their part. The capitalist system and it’s owners are represented as the ultimate in Alpha Male winners (they only allow arguments of sexism to be used to marginalize non-whites, not to be applied to them of course) while any Left opposition has completely failed to inspire the least bit of confidence. If this is accepted as reality, no one can be blamed for taking the side of the only possible winner if there clearly are no viable alternatives. What capitalists fear the most is reality, the reality that their success is NOT the result of some great productivity resulting from great inventions but, a ponzi scheme that generates wealth from the very people they seek to oppress. As to their great power, I think Mao put it best when he said “All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are powerful!” Given the historical precedent of the all inclusive people’s struggles succeeding in the face of what was said to be very powerful imperialists, being on the side of the oppressed is one hell of a winning ticket!

  19. We have also just found out that the country western area has been deleted from the festival this year. For the past few years, country western dancing has been held in the Pavilion. It has a great floor and is perfect for couple dancing. We hear that the Pavilion is being handed over to the leather event. This makes no sense. The leather community has had “Erotic City” for many years and is successful. They don’t need a good wood floor for dancing. Some have said that country is not well attended. I don’t believe that. Yes, there are times like 10 AM on Saturday when the floor is empty but so are the dance, latin, and other dance spaces. The country floor is packed the same times the other floors are packed. Some claim that country music is on the decline, yet the Nielsen survey shows that country represents 11.2% of the listing audience (not much difference than R&B/Hip Hop at 17.2% and Pop at 14.9%; actually, Rock has 29% of the listening audience– do we have a Rock dance tent?? and Dance/EDM has only 3.4% and Latin at 2.6%). So, the argument that country is a small audience is not true. Finally, what is truly overlooked is that country is the only place in the LGBT community where we can dance in same-sex couples. If you look at dances at the big bars like Rage, Mickey, Factory (which I still call “disco”), you can’t immediately tell that the dancers are LGBT. Since they don’t usually touch but dance in groups, it could be straight kids. This is not a put down of disco (I danced it for 30 years). Disco is fun, but it is not couple dancing. There is no place in the gay community where same-sex couples can dance ballroom. Still, to this day, same-sex couples are not allowed to compete in international ballroom competitions. We are blessed to have Oil Can Harry’s in Los Angeles. No other city in the world has an Oil Can where we can dance many nights a week in same-sex couples. CSW should make an extra effort to continue country dancing at Pride if for no other reason than the political implications of dancing in same-sex couples. Over the years I’ve seen many young people visit the country dancing in the Pavilion. You should see their faces. They are in awe of seeing same-sex couples dancing ballroom/country. You don’t see it on TV. If anything, you only see opposite-sex couples dancing at county fairs, TV, and elsewhere. I ask all of us who dance country and ballroom to let CSW know that they must continue hosting country dancing– and the Pavilion is the best place this year. Thank you for your time.

  20. I use to be on the CSW board years ago. LA PRIDE was giving back to the community. We gave free tickets to the nonprofit organizations in our community. Someone had suggested using PDC lot. We use to use it every year until the expansion had happened. We also gave free booths to all the nonprofit organizations as well. I do understand that each year the cost does go up on the fencing, booths, tents, trailers, etc. It’s a shame that the core of what was started so long ago has changed from an event for the gay community to a music festival.

  21. I screamed about this last year and it’s gotten worse. It was hard for me to get press passes last year. We have the money we should get rid of csw. I’m sick of these people making millions while we pay.

  22. I’m with You Larry 110%. They are cutting out the young and/or old (and many others)in the gay community who simply want to celebrate pride and can’t throw down $35 plus concessions. Should be much much less expensive…or CSW should pay profit taxes.

  23. I’m In the Bay Area, and have gone to lots of SF Pride days. I love that it’s a donation-based entry, and that seems to be working, right? For the suggested donation, you certainly get a wide area of stuff to do (even if it’s only walking around). In stark contrast, San Jose’s paltry Pride weekend has a mandatory admission that’s been going up every year, and the experience is a joke! A few tables of community pamphlets and a few jewelry vendors, and a little dance tent (seriously), plus a main stage that hasn’t hosted anyone I’ve recognized in years! And I’m not old!

    Maybe SF has spoiled me, but I certainly would expect WeHo to be a Pride destination; this current mindset, though, will ensure I don’t visit. Pride has necessarily changed, but dubbing it a music festival just sucks the whole point of it away. GayChella, indeed!

  24. When I had just begun my coming out process many years ago, I looked forward to Christopher Street West (CSW). There were plenty of booths for community organizations, and a certain political vibe that I enjoyed. Booths for recreation groups, ethnic-based organizations, charities, religious groups, etc… abounded. I volunteered at four or five booths over the years. In recent years, the community organizations have more or less disappeared. The celebration has become a consumerist love fest with corporate and commercial booths far outnumbering anything vaguely community based. I think CSW should either attempt to return to its roots, lose its pursuit of bigger and more extravagant, or lose both the Pride label and WeHo subsidy.

  25. Why don’t they just rename the event Beverly Hills Pride? It would be more honest. $25 for a mediocre pride festival was already too expensive (I have eschewed the festival for the past three years) but $35 is beyond the pale… especially framed in the context of a $20 per resident tax to fund the event. And that $150 VIP access ticket is elitist and gross and on the wrong side of history. Christopher Street West with their 80’s mentality is clearly motivated by money. Pride has nothing to do with their objectives. This year I will not even go to watch the parade.

  26. I agree with Mimi. People want extra bells and whistles and always aren’t willing to pay for them. $35 for 10 hours of entertainment isn’t even a lot of money these days. Get with the program.

  27. Give me a break were celebrating diversity not separation and discrimination wake the hell up greedy people. Have you allowed the greedy pigs to come in and take over WTF. This is a once a year celebration for men and women to take pride in the life we live and now you’ve allowed this BS to happen no thanks I’ll sit this one out and boycott this disgraceful party ran by greedy a-holes. The men and women who have died would be disappointed

  28. Wow. “The Entertainment Capital of the World” (as some radio station calls LA) and the best they can get is that “Call Me Maybe” has-been from, what, three years ago? Gee, CSW, you REALLY can’t seem to get this “Pride” thing right, can you? It does seem inclusive, though. I’ve seen the “hip-hop tent” several years in a row and from the looks of it, I wasn’t quite sure if same-sex dancing was allowed there. I don’t see much “gay pride” at the Pride festivals; I just see a bunch of seemingly straight kids from LA in general partying it up. I doubt I saw two same-sex couples kiss there the last 5 years. Which “Pride” is it celebrating? It doesn’t seem like LGBT has much to do with it anymore. Why does a city as big as LA screw it up so badly, when New York, San Francisco, and others seem to get it right? Even Long Beach gets bigger entertainment names. Oh, yeah, because CSW. Why do they still control it all when they have proven they really can’t handle the job? As a property owner, business owner, and taxpayer (heaven knows) in West Hollywood, I don’t want my tax dollars going for a generic, breeder-infested “music festival” when we still have plenty of reasons to celebrate GAY pride, as such. GAY. I said it. GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY. Just as it was needed in 1969, it’s still needed today, loud, un-apologetic, un-diluted. Not “music festival” – GAY PRIDE. GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY.

  29. After being on the board of SF Pride for a year I basically have given up on our pride and given that they are asking for money at the gate for donations for beneficiaries but so little money actually gets to them I have just stopped bothering to go.

  30. When I moved here and I was in my 20’s and 30’s there were many years I could not go to the festival because of the entry fee. So there will probably be a lot of young people that cannot go because of the price.

  31. Thanks Larry for the timely wake up call. Apparently you can put a price tag on Pride. I don’ t how West Hollywood can claim we are inclusive when we are pricing folks out of their own festival. The Pride event in West Hollywood has always proclaimed itself to be the celebration for the greater Los Angeles area. If the City of West Hollywood can’t insist that we have a festival that is reasonably priced so that everyone can attend, then maybe we should consider a different venue. Frankly I would much rather the City spend money on an inclusive pride event than the huge amounts we fork out for Halloween. Maybe it is time for the community and CSW to reflect on why we celebrate this event in the first place.

  32. Thanks to Larry and WeHoVille for providing this perspective on the evolving nature of LA Pride. As a WeHo resident, property owner and taxpayer, the financial aspects of Larry’s remarks are what really get me upset. At $700k taxpayer support at $20 per WeHo resident – this is an outrageous “gift” of the public purse. If what “Tom” says is true and Festival space is allocated on a “Profit Center” basis, then it begs the question of what CSW “profits” out of the weekend.

    LARRY- you should be able to find CSW’s annual 990 IRS disclosure form on line which should summarize their financial performance. Here’s a suggestion Larry & Hank/WeHoVille – if you’re really wanting to dig into this issue, Public Disclosure requests should be made for all CSW / Pride contracts, documents and financial info provided the City to justify the $700,000 support. Likewise, as the City is “paying” for the Frstival, I’d argue that all of CSW’s Festival contracts and financials are Public Records Act disclosable as the City is ultimately “reimbursed” $100k. If that reimbursement is in any way tied to the financial performance of the Festival – then ALL of their Festival financials should be made available to the public.

  33. What is happening to you is remarkably similar to what happened in Manchester in the UK some 15 years ago and continues. You are going to have to fight.

  34. I don’t agree that it should be moved from West Hollywood. We are still the center of gay culture, LA’s “gayborhood.” LA Pride also brings solid business to local hotels, bars and restaurants. Its good for our economy, and this is also the appropriate place to celebrate.

    But the City should have more say on how it is run, especially with the taxpayer money involved.

  35. Go back to basics: the problem is the location, location, location. LA is America’s second largest city, with one of the largest openly gay communities on earth. There is no reason for gays to cluster in the WeHo ghetto. The march needs to be in the middle of the city. Shut down Broadway and Grand, then march directly to City Hall and put the “festival” in Grand Park. It’s time to reinvent the entire event. The City of West Hollywood does not own my pride.

  36. I agree with Larry and there are some easy solutions to help. It would be best if West Hollywood’s Semi/Counter Pride programming, the One City – One Pride gimmick was supported more by the City and community.

    Rather than have a month long trickle of events the One City – One Pride should consolidate all of its events during LA Pride Weekend and host it at Plummer Park – FREE to the Public. Or shut down SMB between San Vicente and Huntley. This is not anti-CSW but gives the community options and could help us really expand pride which is a claustrophobic nightmare. The current One City One Pride is not relevant and CSW LA Pride is an expensive music festival and just that. It is good that at least the name changed to be reflective of what the event is.

    We also need to take the parade back. Let CSW focus on making a great music festival – parades are not their strong suit. The parade is routinely a laughing stock and CSW went so far as to infamously try to cancel its live television feed (how illuminating)!

    Will the Gay & Lesbian Board say anything??

  37. I’m a senior and $15 is outrageous so I can walk around on a asphalt street in the hot sun. Whats left of the park it seems is also paved over. Long Beach is much more fun and most of it is on a grassy open area with a cool sea breeze. To top it off, seniors get in free.

    If this new Music Festival concept fails will the city get stuck bailing it out? We need a festival that is about fun, not to political, and not about how much they can gouge us for. I thought the proliferation of trailers for the CSW Board to Lounge in was to much, now we hear they require offices in the PDC. How arrogant can some gays get?

  38. Deal Dalla Torre,
    Many of us struggle to pay our rent and share our apartments so it is not right for you to tell others what they should be able to afford. And many others are on a fixed income, so please, stop judging. i’d love to attend the festival but really $35? its the most expensive Pride Festival in the nation. i want my taxpayer money back too!

  39. I personally, not be attending. This event is NOT a music festival. It is about instilling PRIDE and community for the LGBTQIA… Or it is supposed to be. Christopher Street West should change its name – for they are NOT bringing the spirit of the events that occurred 1969 on Christopher Street at the Stonewall Inn. And that is the point of Gay Pride and original intent for these celebrations – to bring our history to new generations. To rename the festivities and raise ticket prices proves that CSW has lost their focus and should no longer produce this event. I think the rise in admission might be tied to CSW’s pricey new offices in the Pacific Design Center.

  40. Thanks for speaking up Larry. But i also want to attention that they have gotten rid off of the frer friday trans celebration. Blindsiding the community.

  41. Moving LA Pride, now a Musical Festival, to DTLA has been floated before and maybe next year is the year for CSW to break from West Hollywood. It can sink or swim on its own. We can use the $700k in taxpayer funds to put on a free weekend festival, skip the musical acts and parade and make it more meaningful to the local LGBT community. Perhaps return It to a more political and activist-led event. Time to give the LA press and TV stations a different visual and sound bite. CSW can ask the City of LA for financial help if it needs it (good luck with that) and ticket prices can be more reflective of regular musical acts that fill up the Nokia theater and Staples Center.

    I freely admit that I’d rather attend a Pride event in Palm Springs or Long Beach. They are smaller, more accessible, more affordable and more personal. Most everyone I know (yes, i know I’m older and no longer the target demographic) avoids the Weat Hollywood event and has for years.

  42. I can’t say I disagree with Larry, but as my net worth has grown so has my likelyhood to not attend the actual event. Anyways pride is more than just the festival, it’s the parade (free), house parties, and just people filling west hollywood with joy and fun.

  43. If you can afford to live in WeHo, then you can afford $35/ 50 /$100 tickets.
    Move this festival to DTLA!!

  44. I am interested as to the availability of free passes for those who volunteer their time to work the festival. This can be an avenue for those on limited budgets to be included. I have heard, from a reasonably reliable source, that volunteers will have to pay full ticket price in order to give their time away for free. For many years, I have given of my time, equipment, vehicle and gas to support and supply Erotic City with equipment. That is how I celebrate Pride, the rest of the Festival does not resonate with me and the excessive noise from musical acts was tolerated as part of the overall experience. Erotic City provided a space to renew friendships with other community members and offer other attendees a chance to explore our world in a safe, friendly environment. We were hugely successful last year when Erotic City was held in the parking ramp for the library.

    I doubt we were ever a “Profit Center” which is now how CSW is allocating space at the Festival. There will be no Country Western dance area because they are not a Profit Center either. This is a serious abandonment of our core cultural values, placing profit over people. As WeHo itself has become a Potemkin Village of LGBT culture, now CSW seems to be following by cashing in on what was once an authentic expression of our cultural victories, losses and the unifying experience of a common struggle for us all to achieve equality.

    It is my understanding that the current President of CSW is a commercial event planner with his own business. Building his own reputation at the expense of our community is a Conflict of Interest the City Council needs to examine more closely. However, Council needs the Festival to prop up the illusion that WeHo is a happy gay mecca to feed their tax coffers.

    Rather than boycott, engage in meaningless political strife when the fix is already in, I encourage the Leather Community to simply create an authentic alternative; a major play party on Saturday night where we can be ourselves.

    When enough people are fed up with WeHo and CSW, we can move everything to DTLA,

  45. I so agree with Larry BLOCK’s evaluation of the announced arrangements. The only attraction I expect at the Festival is the Sizzle! sober area, where I will be volunteering. As a vegan, teetotaler, and Chair of the City’s Senior Advisory Board, this year’s upcoming Festival portends to be even worse than the previous. Drugs, drunks, “music” volume that assaults even the deaf and hearing-impaired are my reasons NOT to attend; $35.00 admission to put up with that will keep me away – except for Sizzle! volunteering, and my WeHo resident tax dollars now awarded by Council to what was the rationale for 40+ years of Christopher Street West: Pride – seem gone. I have a choice of organizational floats to ride to welcome the 100,000s that we hope will be an infusion of Pride for all spectators! Celebrants have a choice to not be taken for advantage by those peddling alcohol, drugs, and hearing loss – at an exorbitant price. My question to Council: “How and why have we lost Pride at a higher cost than ever before?”

  46. Great piece,Larry. I’d happily support the boycott/social media campaign. The only way our voices are actually heard these days is through our dollars – or lack thereof.

  47. Thank you, Larry, for writing this, as I had the exact same response to the news. This is so out of step with what Pride should be and while I haven’t attended in recent years because of how pitiful the event had become, this furthers my resolve. I agree with the idea of a boycott – $35 is outrageous and the only way the organizers can get the message is through a very public boycott that has a significant impact on attendance. Shame on West Hollywood for allowing this to happen and for completely throwing the community under the bus. Sickening.

  48. A very righteous rant, Larry! Spot on. I stopped going to pride, it is like the gentrification of the event is complete. My friends in Hollywood and Silver Lake all go to Long Beach even though this is supposed to be LA PRIDE. They feel that West Hollywood has bought into the two societies argument with all the haves coming here and all the have nots going south. I am a disabled gay man on a fixed income, it is too expensive for someone like me. I haven’t been since they raised the price to $20. The year before last there was a great photo display of lesbians across America and two of the subject matters were friends i grew up with who live in the south and I was unable to go and see them during the pride festival because i could not afford to get in. I had to go and see them the week before the festival and then glimpse them as the artist took them down after the festival.The Festival has become more exclusive each and every year that I have lived in West Hollywood. I have been fighting for gay rights ever since I got kicked off the Jim and Tammy show in Pat Robertson’s studio in Portsmouth, VA because I was asking inappropriate questions for a six year old in 1967. The fight for inclusion rages on and yet we have our very own community engaging in exclusion! I am with Larry on this!

  49. LB Pride has Neon Trees as headliners this year and tickets are only 20 bucks. I haven’t been to the LA Pride Festival in years because of the high admission fee. On top of paying a high fee, you pay an arm and a leg for a drink.

  50. I guess we are too old as we only recognize one “name” performing. The range was much broader in the past. We guess they only want the kids to attend.

  51. Are people REALLY that bent ouf of shape over a lousy 35 dollar ticket? It’s 2016. $35 is what you pay for two drinks at the Abbey, maybe. If you’re talking about the price of events, cheap seats for Trevor Project events are $150 each. And every other local LGBT nonprofit charges a lot too, just for a lousy dinner and to hear boring speeches. I think Pride is still the best bargain going after all these years, especially after seeing people spend thousands to go to Coachella or the gay ski weekends! $35 for a 10-hour day for music, dancing, food and drink options, lots to do and see. And I’m glad there is a VIP experience for a very manageable price of $150 – this is what some people pay for dinner in this town. And if someone wants to pay that much, to have a more special experience, then why shouldn’t they? Nobody is forcing their hands, and nobody is denying the debbie downers that option too. Just cough up the cash.

    It’s interesting. Larry – I’ve been in your store and you sell jeans for $120. Many people would feel THAT’s cost prohibitive yet nobody is talking about boycotts or demanding the city pull the plug on your store. It’s a CHOICE to go or not to go. To pay or not to pay. And if you don’t pay, you still get a 3 hour parade for FREE anyway, at which to celebrate pride, so why has this become a thing. I’m glad Pride has continued to get bigger and better each year. Who wants to stand around in a dusty old festival like we used to. Is a $35 ticket THAT big a deal???

  52. Yeah I for one saw the “sales pitch” on this the other day and just thought I’d rather pass on it. I haven’t been, but thought I’d like to check it out. I’m just not crazy going to a street festival where it gets to revolve around the price of a tix. Should be just something to keep going and make it abit better next year. Not run peeps off!

  53. Larry, thank you for your perspective and taking the time to give the rest of L.A. the view of a West Hollywood resident. I see this year’s pride as being more inclusive as it feels more like an L.A. Pride so far than a WeHo pride–I do thank you for, how do you put it, “tolerate” those in the Los Angeles gay community who do not reside in the West Hollywood city limits. I am also excited for the inclusion of so many artist who are LGBT and our allies such as Le1f, Big Fredda, Charlie XCX, Carly Rae Jebsen, and the entire line up! You might not know of these artist, but some reach more parts if the L.A. LGBT community than the white party and poppers that Block Party gears it’s marketing to. We all have ideas of how L.A. Pride should look, but to come for them like you did makes you sound bitter, because as you state. they didn’t take your suggestion.

  54. If the tickets are really $35 for admission and the council approved all these funds its a total disgrace. Shame on the city council for not asking more questions. Really John Duran on this committee must have been on Grindr the whole time.

  55. Time full a full boycott of all admission events. I’ve heard from several people doing a full-out viral social media boycott sit-out of the whole thing. And Council, just pull the plug on all the waivers today

  56. With the exit of the Rodney Scott board at CSW, I had high hopes that LA Pride weekend would become much more like Larry describes. Last year seemed better, particularly the parade, so things seemed to be on the right track. Now we learn that it’s morphed into a pricey music festival. It seems more exclusive than inclusive, catering to a younger, monied gay male audience. How CSW retains its non-profit status is beyond me. History? Political action? Lesbian inclusion? Seniors? Trans pride and dealing with anti-trans legislation sweeping the country? Promotion of local businesses and nonprofits serving the community? East-side involvement? No to everything.

    How does Lomg Beach put on a better pride event every year? Palm Springs is far more festive and inclusive and affordable. SF is free and very political. It’s time the City pulled the plug on this for-profit music festival. It doesn’t need or deserve taxpayer subsidies.

  57. Well put Larry Block. One thing though. VIP was there the last two years, which included a skating rink. The skating rink was actually very fun, but I still don’t like the idea of an exclusive area.

    And it shouldn’t be just WeHo residents who get a discount. The tickets shouldn’t be even close to that high. The event should be much cheaper, or even free. CSW should look at what is working in San Diego and San Francisco, which would include moving the parade to Saturday. They should also look into using the Pacific Design Center outdoor space (they used a parking lot one year), which would make the event less cramped.

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