Alexei Romanoff, a Ukrainian immigrant who may be one of the only surviving participants in the 1967 demonstration against a police raid of Silver Lake’s gay Black Cat Tavern, will be L.A. Pride’s grand marshal this year.
Romanoff, 80, immigrated to the United States during War World II. He moved to Los Angeles in 1958 where he became an active member of the city’s gay activist and leather communities. As his level of engagement increased, so did his arrest record for “civil disobedience” in organizing protests against unfair police raids such as that at the Black Cat. Many view the 1969 riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn as the beginning of the gay liberation movement. However the peaceful demonstrations outside the Black Cat over police arrests of gay men in that bar preceded Stonewall by two and a half years. Romanoff tells the Black Cat story in the video above, a clip from the documentary “L.A. A Queer History.”
Romanoff has founded several LGBTQ organizations, including the Santa Monica Bay Coalition for Human Rights and the Avatar Club of Los Angeles. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Romanoff also fought long and hard for the funding of research and assistance programs as well as the rights of AIDS victims.
“I have spent a majority of my life fighting for equality and standing up for the unalienable rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Romanoff, who will also be very active in this year’s Resist March. “I have marched alongside the community in solidarity ever since the first L.A. Pride parade 47 years ago, and will do so as long as I live.”
Romanoff will be the grand marshal of the L.A. Pride festival this year rather than the L.A. Pride parade. That’s because the parade, which first took place in 1970, will be replaced by a protest march called the Resist March.
That march, expected to bring together supporters of civil rights for immigrants, LGBT people and women, will begin at 8 a.m. on June 11 at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland, the place where the Pride parade got its start 47 years ago. It is a protest against measures proposed and enacted by the Trump administration that are seen as challenges to civil liberties.
The Pride festival returns to West Hollywood park for two days of live entertainment and community programming on June 10 and 11.
This year’s Main Stage, renamed the Park Stage, will feature a collection of pop artists including both established and emerging talent. The Park Stage’s eclectic lineup will feature headliners Chromeo and Brandy.
Chromeo’s Dave 1 and P-Thugg will perform on Saturday. They began creating music together in 2002 and have since released four albums. The duo is known for its unique mix of guitar, synth, and vocals. On Sunday, Brandy, the award-winning singer, songwriter and actress, takes the stage as the evening’s headliner with her R&B songs.
Also performing on LA Pride’s park stage is a collection of artists that includes Young M.A, Erika Jayne, Brooke Candy, Kat Dahlia, Aaron Carter, ILoveMakonnen, Spencer Ludwig, Starley, Tish Hyman, Leon Else, Connell Cruise and Jesse Montana. Latin, Hip Hop, and R&B lineups will also be announced in the coming days.
“This is our eighth year producing LA Pride’s celebration, and I have to say that this is one of my favorite lineups of talent for the festival,” said Jeff Consoletti of JJLA, the event’s producer. “This lineup is edgy yet balanced with established hit makers and, much like the community itself, is very progressive. I think people will love how this year’s lineup will make for a fun weekend-long celebration of our community.”
This year’s Pride festival will be different from that of previous years because the area of West Hollywood Park available for the festival will be radically reduced because of construction work at the park.
L.A. Pride will host both free and ticketed events beginning on June 5 and continuing through June 11. Key events include the annual L.A. Dodgers LGBT Night (in partnership with L.A. Pride) and other community events that will be announced soon.
LA Pride festival tickets are now on sale online. A general admission weekend pass is $35, and general admission single day tickets are $25. Tickets for veterans, active military personnel, those 65 and over and children 12 and under are $15 at the box office on the day of the festivals, with an ID required for proof of age. More details about the event are available online.