Opinion: Gay Pride Parade or Protest?

The annual LA Pride Parade is the loudest celebration showcasing LGBT pride. On a parade route you can feel the living soul of Pride. An unabashed celebration. A full display of our community. Unity among groups. The breadth of our community in full view for all to join. The good times are the most glorious of days.

Way back in 1969, when I was a ten-year-old tot, there was this riot in New York City at a gay club called Stonewall. It was the first time the gays stuck together and fought back against the police. They weren’t giving up. And the spark to the flame of the modern gay rights movement began.

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

Think back on last year and the community revolt against Christopher Street West (CSW)’s decision to coin L.A. Pride as a music festival. CSW President Chris Classen proclaimed “our demographic is millennials.” We fought to restore Friday night free entry to the festival. We fought for lower ticket prices. We fought for more transgender programing, and we won.

I’m going to personally apologize for dropping the ball. By the time Pride ended and new members joined the CSW board I had confidence that they would find their way. Lauren Meister replaced John Duran on the City Council sub-committee to save Pride. We had a community outreach that turned into a mini-revolt. The city hired this marketing group that took over the meeting with questions like a poll, Ivy Bottini spoke up, and an outpouring came from the crowd. We wanted a say in the future of Pride. Lauren Meister took the ball in her hands on the subcommittee and as mayor. After a second community meeting there was zero follow up.

The community’s input was important because, with construction of West Hollywood Park, the footprint for the festival would be smaller. To my knowledge, we have not secured that additional space to date. With the resignations of some CSW members, the failure of the City Council subcommittee and with 90 days to go, we needed a plan.

Enter Brian Pendleton. Don Zuidema, the founder of LASC and a strong community advocate, called me to arrange a lunch. I met Brian Pendleton. I listened to his proposal. This very articulate, passionate, determined, seasoned and proud gay man said he was going to propose a protest – Resist — for pride and no parade. I listened to his proposal about beginning this protest from Hollywood to West Hollywood Park. “No parade,” I asked, “Why? Why can’t you do the protest to Crescent Heights, and then we celebrate with a parade?”

I kept sticking to those guns, and Brian kept sticking to his guns, and then we discussed logistics. How could it move forward, given the timetable and sense of urgency? Brian had a meeting that night with CSW, and I promised my support if he could move this ball forward. Then I called Henry Scott, the editor of this publication, who offered Brian op-ed space. He had his appointments lined up. My hour was up. Abbe Land was next.

Back to that Stonewall Inn, 1969. They marched. “Never again,” we cried. “We are not a mental disorder. We want the right to serve our country and love our best friend. We weren’t bad because we were gay.” We found ourselves in the mirror through what we are inside. Our genders identified. The pain of coming out running so deep in so many. “ AIDS came from God to put its evil curse on us.” “Fags.” “Kill this kid named Matthew Shepard. Tie him to a fence. That kid from Oklahoma hopping a bus to find his way to Hollywood. Selling his body on the streets.” Did anybody ever tell you that you were ok? For so many that gay Pride parade says you are ok. We celebrate you and say it proud.

The parade has changed, from a march with a sign from Stonewall to a liberation celebration to a music festival. Pride and Protest, they both carry a message. I haven’t quite figured out what exactly this protest is for or against, but I damn know what the parade is all about. So let’s march from Hollywood to Crescent Heights, and parade from Crescent Heights to Robertson. Yes we can have it all. A protest and a celebration.

But to facilitate the successful control of the Resist march, and the festival or parade I advocate for an emergency meeting of the CSW board of directors, which should ask for the resignation of Chris Classen and Craig Bowers as president and vice chair of CSW and then appoint Brian Pendleton as its interim president. The phoenix has risen. We can save Pride. Chris failed, Craig failed, and, sorry to say, the subcommittee of D’Amico and Meister failed.

So Brian, we can’t pick up the pieces for next year if we dismantle them this year. We need you to serve a two-year term and straighten this mess out. As the new acting president of CSW I support your initiatives and decisions in exchange for your commitment to serve a two-year term. Deal?


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Chuck Stewart
Guest

Here’s a technical question. Isn’t CSW a 501(c)3 non-profit organization? If so, it cannot organize or participate in political actions. Isn’t a protest march a political action. The parade was to educate the community about our history, diversity, and more. A protest march is political. i see a potential conflict that could threaten CSW status as a non-profit under California law.

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

CSW, isn’t putting on the march. They are doing the Pride Festival. The march is a whole other entity.

Ben McCormick
Guest
Ben McCormick

While CSW isn’t putting on the march, technically, they saw which way the winds were blowing and so have come forward and said “what a fabulous idea” and “we will be official sponsors”. You will see that on their homepage, lapride.org, the second screen to pop up calls it an “LA Pride Project.” It seems that about the only thing lameass CSW can do correctly is grab onto someone else’s coattails and claim credit.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Larry, what you propose sounds like it could be chaotic. Also, what about those that want to be in the parade *and* the march? Sounds like we’d have to make them choose, and that doesn’t seem like a good way to handle things. A march is something new, different, and necessary in these politically chaotic times. Women, minorities and the LGBT community need to make their voices heard, nationwide. I’ve noticed in our annual parade that the ritzy floats are usually purchased by commercial enterprises, like Micky’s, etc. (“Magic Mike 2?”). What is to stop people from gathering in matching… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Parade! Being gay is not a privilege! Send the usual cast of basement dwellers, rock throwers, flag burners, slut walkers, immigrants who hate America and all their ilk to protest down in Orange County to reward the people there for voting for a Democrat for president for the first time.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

What is the real difference if the ‘parade’ starts on Crescent Heights and the Resist March starts at Hollywood and Highland. The parade is slow so the march will catch up and be the last ‘float’ of the parade. I am sure that people will be screaming for all the marchers.. and it will be the highlight of the parade. And really, do we want to wake up ln June 12th looking at both the directors of CSW who have run our pride into the ground two years in a row? While CSW is a non profit, Craig and Chris… Read more »

Ben McCormick
Guest
Ben McCormick

I am completely shocked and appalled at the lack of interest and/or understanding of what it is we MUST protest this year . . . our so-called President and his cronies are actively working toward stripping us of the very rights we’ve gained through our own hard fights, the very rights that allow us to have a parade of celebration! If we lose our rights as equal citizens, we are left with nothing to celebrate. A protest march does not need to be a somber, stony-faced affair. Let’s make it a parade, filled with our unique colors and costumes and… Read more »

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Ben, relax, no matter how far we come, some will never be satisfied. Your community, as you call it is made up of lots of different people with different views. Do you think Trump will give a rat’s ass about a protest march? We need to be political and celebrate our Pride at the same time. As far as I know, that’s what the parade has always done The only real power we have is through our elected officials. How about you get more people to get out and vote, because those numbers are abysmal.

Susan H.
Guest
Susan H.

I’m not interested in a protest and what is there to protest? Some people are unhapoy with the president who hasn’t done anything yet? Fear has taken over. The city council on the other hand we should protest- how dare they give away our celebration so they can glorify themselves with speeches and where is the ‘community input’.

Tony from WEHO
Guest
Tony from WEHO

If the organizers of Gay pride can’t handle a protest and a festival maybe they should let someone else run the show. If it’s a question of the cost of the Festival and being upset because people think they were trying to make too much money from last years fest, maybe they should ask for volunteers for the festival and food vendors to donate food and drink to show off their wares and /or donate to the cause. Having a protest for something is fine but lets not forget that the festival is to celebrate the freedoms gay people fought… Read more »

Lucky Lady
Guest
Lucky Lady

Parade!

Randy
Guest
Randy

Jerome, for (5) above, you must recognize that this protest was already being organized nationwide. I don’t think CSW had much of a choice, other than to have the protest end at the parade, at Crescent Heights. That sounds a bit chaotic to me, and I’m not sure both would be successful. Perhaps. I think we need this shake-up. I have gone to the parade almost every year I’ve lived here, since 1997. I don’t quite understand how it is a celebration of our “pride” to have a float from Wells Fargo. Or Paris Hilton as our “grand marshal.” Or… Read more »

ItsNick!
Guest
ItsNick!

Parade! – aren’t most parades filled with signs and protests but we never stop celebrating who we are as a community. Thanks Larry Block if u were on the council we know there would be a parade!!

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Parade, with a nod to the protest, if possible

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Parade, but integrate the march somehow, or at least acknowledge it in the parade. Aside from the Trans using which bathroom at schools issue, which was ridiculous for him to even get involved in, I am not sure what the protest is about. No, I am not a Trump supporter