#NotOurPride Organizes to Boycott This Year’s LA Pride

Opponents of this year’s plans for the LA Pride festival have organized themselves into a group called “#NotOurPride” that is calling for a boycott of the June 10-12 parade and festival in West Hollywood.

The group, for whom the hashtag symbolizes its plans to promote the boycott on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, was organized by the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT), a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that provides HIV testing and support services for Asian and Pacific Island people.

It held a meeting Monday night attended by people from organizations such as The Wall Las Memorias, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, API-Equality LA, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, Gender Justice LA and the TransLatina Coalition. Many of the attendees were not, however, officially representing their organizations.

Members of #NotOurPride meeting on Monday.
Members of #NotOurPride meeting on Monday.

The group’s decision to lobby for a boycott of the LA Pride Festival was largely a response to decisions by the new leadership of Christopher Street West, which produces the festival, to rebrand the Pride event as a music festival, increase its ticket prices and reduce the hours of its Friday night transgender party. CSW also has been criticized for reducing the Friday lesbian celebration, known as the Purple Party or Lavender Menace, to two hours from the seven hour free event in years past.

Peter Cruz, associate director of APAIT, said he has been in discussions with Chris Classen, the new president of CSW, about those issues. Cruz said that Classen told him that Pride had been operating in the red for many years, with the 2015 event being an exception. To fix that, CSW decided to expand the festival to three days by adding Friday, June 10, to it. Classen said CSW also wanted to improve what he called “lackluster entertainment.”  In making Friday an official part of the festival, for which a $35 daily ticket is required, CSW decided to grant free admission from 6 to 8 p.m. on that date.

Cruz said that Classen also offered to extend the trans celebration to four hours, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, at the El Tovar parking lot stage at the south end of West Hollywood Park. He said Classen also promised that  CSW would continue the Friday night trans event at future Pride festivals.

The several dozen people attending the #NotOurPride meeting Monday voted unanimously to reject Classen’s offer. “The trans community feels that there should be no compromise or negotiation when it comes to respecting their presence and contributions to the Los Angeles LGBTQ community,” #NotOurPride said in a statement provided to WEHOville. “CSW’s Board of Directors initially voted to reduce the Friday night event to two hours without consulting with the community. When the community attempted to voice their concerns to CSW’s board, they received a cold shoulder and were literally shown the door.

“For weeks, CSW insisted that they would not be able to make changes to their festival schedule and would not be able to accommodate the community’s request. We feel that the reason CSW has finally decided to extend the hours from 6 to 10 p.m. is to quell the negative publicity that they are receiving as a result of their decisions. Our silence cannot and will not be bought.”

Chris Classen
Chris Classen

Cruz said that Classen responded to concerns about the 40% increase in ticket prices ($30 if purchased in advance and $35 if purchased at the gate) by saying additional revenue was need to cover larger expenses this year. Those increased expenses include added security, more musical talent and festival logistics. Classen also stated, as previously reported, that CSW plans to supplement a $15,000 ticket subsidy from the City of West Hollywood with $45,000 worth of three-day passes that would be given to non-profit organizations to distribute to the community. Cruz said that Classen proposed that APAIT handle that distribution. APAIT and #NotOurPride declined.

Cruz noted that subsidies from CSW and the city could provide about 1,100 tickets for people in need, 100 of which Classen told him would be directed to transgender people. “We would like CSW to be transparent as to how the remaining 1,000 tickets will be distributed. We also ask CSW to disclose the accountability measures that they will implement to ensure that the tickets are distributed to individuals in need. We strongly feel that the current pricing structure for LA Pride creates division within the LGBTQ community.

“Members of the community have the right to celebrate Pride regardless of their ability to pay and should not have to rely on taxpayer funded ticket subsidies. We feel that entry to the Pride festival should be on a donation basis, as it is done in San Francisco and other major cities.”

Finally, #NotOurPride objected to the recasting of the annual event in West Hollywood Park as a music festival. Cruz said Classen told him that 80% of festival attendees last year were Millennials, young people born from the early 1980s to 2000, and that a music festival was more appealing to them. Cruz said Classen “emphasized that CSW plans to ensure that the festival is inclusive of all LGBTQ communities and will feature members of each community through the various festival stages, art installations, and booths.”

But Cruz said he told Classen that the focus on Millennials excluded the other 20% of the LGBT community. Cruz also argued that the LA Pride website is evidence of CSW’s focus on entertainment rather than LGBT causes and history. The “website does not provide any historical information of the origins of the Pride movement,” he said in his statement to WEHOville. Cruz noted that the only reference that Pride as an LGBT community event on CSW’s website is a footnote at the bottom of the page.

Cruz said Classen told him the website will be updated in coming weeks and that CSW is recruiting LGBT people to be featured in a “Own Your Pride” marketing campaign. #NotOurPride declined Classen’s offer to help recruit people for the campaign.

“Community members strongly object to the intentional erasing of the Los Angeles LGBTQ community’s legacy and history by CSW,” said a statement from #NotOurPride. “Furthermore, the community rejects the division that CSW is creating between various LGBTQ communities and organizations with their festival plans. In addition to disrespecting the trans community, CSW has also reduced their plans for the Friday night Dyke March without consulting with the lesbian community. Additionally, CSW is creating a divide between LGBTQ age groups by intentionally excluding older adults and senior citizens from the focus of this year’s event. Finally, CSW is creating divisions between non-profit organizations and community groups by restricting the number of exhibitors at this year’s event … We strongly feel that Pride should be the vehicle that promotes unity and inclusion within the LGBTQ community, rather than perpetuate divisions.

“We invite the community to follow the #NotOurPRIDE movement on social media and to support us by expressing your concerns and participating in upcoming meetings and events,” the group said in its statement. “Collectively, as one community, we must stand against greed and the intentional disregard of our community’s history and legacy.”


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Brian Holt
Guest
Brian Holt

NO More Christopher Street West! Every year it’s the same thing in one form or another!
My. God. Man. When will we learn? Much like we did away with the deputies at City Hall we need to reinvent a new organization. The stink has stunk far too long.

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[…] ….. I’m sure there was a lot more to that. In fact, read the whole thing over at WeHo Ville and see how the people from #NotOurPride made their voices heard and look at the response. Below […]

90069
Guest
90069

I hear Erotic City will be back so I am reversing my criticism of the event. Hooray for LA Pride Music Festival! Let’s all give it a chance before we go crazy with attacking CSW. Perhaps it will be as similar as it always is or even better.

Weston
Guest
Weston

Sure-fire way for change is for CSW to majorly lose money from a boycott, etc. Unless the Council then bails them out with taxpayer money. Isn’t the ticket subsidy from the Council also taxpayers paying for and thus directly supporting the ick?

Garry Bowie
Guest

I have mixed feeling about there being a boycott. While I have known Peter Cruz of APAIT for many years and his agency does have a very large transgender constituency, Peter run a wonderful agency, a diverse clientele and faces daunting social services challenges in serving his clients. But, I am not convince that a boycott is in the best interest of the community. Let me explain why. I too, was at the Council meeting at the request of a councilperson and by a CSW Board member. I asked for Being Alive not to be place at the “kiddie table”… Read more »

90069
Guest
90069

I think the music festival is a good idea but it should not replace what we think is a “pride festival”. A pride festival should be GAY. I am guessing erotic city is also gone. Where are the edgy, gay and boundary pushing events in West Hollywood? Everything now is sanitized and exclusive to rich white men. LA Pride has been going down hill for years but that was because it was becoming more and more sterile. It was no different than going to the Abbey. A real shame to see it go into a complete tailspin but hopefully this… Read more »

Mark Mulhall
Guest
Mark Mulhall

Nonprofit pride for all should NOT turn into for-profit gaychella for just the young and well to do. What happened to diversity? How can Palm Springs throw a White Party for years that does not cannibalize their Pride events? They get it. Long beach has consistently thrown a much larger, better run and more inclusive festival for YEARS. They get it. San Francisco has always been all about community – and FREE since the beginning. They get it. I’m not against change or music festivals (I love & attend music festivals), and I agree that the pride festival needs refreshing.… Read more »

Richard Grossi
Guest
Richard Grossi

So glad Pride is trying to move forward with the times, the festival was getting so stale and boring. Hope the changes are successful.

Chris Freeman
Guest

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… Read more »

Anon
Guest
Anon

The few members of the CSW board who have been fighting against these egregious changes have either LEFT or been actively threatened with law suits for being in violation of a confidentiality contract. Let that sink in… A tax-payer subsidized non profit that makes its volunteer board members sign a confidentiality agreement and theatens them with law suits to protect their own money trail being exposed?? ITS A DAMN WHITE F*GGOT RACKET LMAO

luca d
Guest
luca d

tedium, boredom, and yet it always does come down to ‘follow the money’
this has long ago become the most avoidable weekend in town !

Dimitri Perparos
Guest

Having WeHo city council look into CSW would be like having Nixon look into Watergate.