In WeHo, Enthusiasm and Determination in the Air at the Resist March

The Resist March on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (Photo by James Mills)

Enthusiasm and determination filled the air on Sunday as the Resist March came to West Hollywood. While the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department estimated the crowd attending the march to be 25,000, far fewer than the estimated 125,000 that traditionally turns out for the L.A. Pride parade that the Resist March replaced this year, the crowd seemed more diverse than West Hollywood usually sees for Pride weekend.

More Latinos, blacks, Asians, women and transgender people seemed to be among those who marched, all seemingly passionate about the call to resist the conservative policies coming out of Washington, D.C. since President Donald Trump took office in January. There was a sense of urgency and solidarity as politicians and speakers called for march participants to fight back against the potential rollback on LGBT rights, women’s rights, minority rights, immigrant’s rights and healthcare rights.

“We resist because it’s fabulous,” West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman told the cheering crowd at the end of the march, which started in Hollywood. “We know that there are people in Washington, D.C., who want to take away all of those rights from us, and we will not let them . . . let’s resist in the spirit of love. Love for our country and the true values it represents of opportunity, equality, fairness and decency for all people.”

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who represents both Hollywood and West Hollywood, named California as “the very heart and soul of the resistance.”


Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus, explained the reason for the resistance. “We resist because this is not normal,” Pelosi said, referring to what is currently happening in Washington, D.C.

Pelosi called for the immediate reopening of the Civil Rights Act to add LGBT rights, telling Resist March participants to contact their congressional leaders right away. Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters called for the impeachment of Trump, chanting, “Impeach 45,” referring to Trump being the 45th president.

While the Resist March began in Hollywood along Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Highland avenues, the march ended three miles away in West Hollywood at Santa Monica Boulevard and Almont Drive (a few blocks west of San Vicente Boulevard).

As a reporter, I started the day at 9 a.m. at the West Hollywood end of the march route. While rally attendees heard speeches on Hollywood Boulevard, I was making my way east on Santa Monica Boulevard, ultimately meeting the marchers on Fairfax Avenue just as it entered the city limits at Fountain Avenue about 10:30 a.m.
Santa Monica Boulevard was closed to traffic as event crews built the stage at Almont and erected video screens for people to watch at four locations (Almont, Robertson Boulevard, Palm Avenue and Hancock Avenue) near the end of the route. It was eerie, yet somehow refreshing, to see West Hollywood’s main street, usually filled with cars at all hours, so empty, so completely devoid of any vehicles, except a few trucks making last minute preparations.

In previous years on Pride Sunday, thousands of people have lined Santa Monica Boulevard, eager to get a good spot to watch the Pride parade. That was not the case this year. Only a few dozen people were on the sidewalks. Café D’Etoile was serving breakfast as it always does on weekends, but many other places, normally closed on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m., such as Fiesta Cantina, Flaming Saddles and Trunks, were open with a few people already sitting on the patios, awaiting the march. As I chatted with some of those patio patrons, I reminded them it would be at least two hours before the march arrived, but they said the wait was unimportant, they just wanted good seats to see the march pass by.

Other people sat on the curb, on bus benches and along walls. One Australian gay couple told me they happened to be in town on vacation and were excited to see the march. One of the men said he intended to join the march when it came by, while the other man said he was just going watch.

Further down the street, Ron and Jerry, a couple who drove up from Costa Mesa, sat on a bench near Kings Road with their dog, intending to join the march as it came by. When I asked why they didn’t go to the start of the march at Hollywood and Highland, they explained they didn’t think they could walk the full three miles, but “wanted to be a part of the history-making event.”

Nearby, two Asian men sat on the street median, saying they were not interested in joining the march, but did want to witness it. About a dozen men, mostly older residents who live nearby, sat in Matthew Sheppard Triangle at Crescent Heights Boulevard (where the parade normally starts), awaiting the protest march. About half said they intended the join when it came by.

As I arrived at Fairfax Avenue, a hundred or so people stood in the intersection awaiting the march’s arrival. Many had homemade protest signs with messages like “Make America Gay Again,” “Dump Trump” and “Resist.” They cheered when they saw the march coming down the street, led by the dykes on bikes.

For the next hour, the marchers came down Fairfax, some dressed in costumes, some barely wearing anything at all. Some were chanting, some were quiet. Some marched individually, some marched with groups, but I kept thinking, “This must have been what the original gay Pride parades were like in the 1970s as people bravely stood up for their rights.”

The political nature of the Resist March brought out many people who normally would not attend the Pride parade, but that same political nature seemed to keep some away, as the Sheriff’s department lower attendance figures suggested.

Several people I chatted with said they hadn’t been to the parade in years, explaining, “It’s always the same. Nothing new to see, so no reason to come out for it.” But this march was something new and they wanted to see it.

In contrast, I ran into an acquaintance, Alex Davis, someone who I have chatted with almost yearly as we watch the parade go by. This year, Alex happened to be dashing into Gelson’s supermarket when I spotted him. When I asked if he was watching the march, he shook his head, “I want the show [referring to the spectacle of the parade]. I’m not really interested in seeing a protest rally.”

West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran summed up the march’s political nature in his speech to the crowd. “I’ve been asked by people, especially young people, what happened to the parade, what about gay pride and why are we doing a Resist March,” Duran said. “What do you think the parade was about these past 40 years!”

Later in the day, I ran into some people who said they had intended to participate in the Resist March, but Pride weekend partying on Saturday night made getting up so early Sunday morning difficult (when they had hangovers).

The parade normally attracts anti-gay protesters who decry homosexuality for religious reasons. Sheriff’s deputies always set up a space on the south side of La Cienega Boulevard for those protesters to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. However, this year no anti-gay protesters turned out.

While the skies were overcast for most of the morning, by noon when the speeches started at the march’s end, the sun came out in full force. By the end of the rally at 1:30 p.m., people were ready for shade, food and drink. While the popular gay restaurant/bar, The Abbey, and its sister bar, The Chapel, both on Robertson Boulevard, were both packed by mid-afternoon, long lines to get in did not start forming until late afternoon. Meanwhile, the line to get into Bar 10 at 8933 Santa Monica Blvd., near Robertson, stretched down the block.

Others went shopping. Larry Block, owner of the Block Party clothing and gay souvenir store at 8853 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Larrabee Street), reported that it was looking like Sunday might be his best day of business ever.

Still others headed to the L.A. Pride festival happening in nearby West Hollywood Park. In years past, the line to get into the festival has been quite long (30 minutes or longer) when the parade ends, but this year the lines seemed relatively short at the rally’s end. Calls to L.A. Pride officials for attendance figures were not returned.

By 4:30 p.m., the rally stage at Almont Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard was completely dismantled. The video screens were taken down and the port-a-potties trucked in for the march were gone. City cleaning crews had picked up all the trash along the boulevard and street sweeping vehicles had gone up and down the road several times. When Santa Monica Boulevard reopened to traffic about 5 p.m., there was little evidence the rally had even happened there a just few hours earlier.


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WEHO boy
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WEHO boy

So they marched because of the “potential” of all those rights being taken away. Even the Mayor said there are “people” in Washington who want to take all the rights away. Well I have NOT heard one single person say that.How about some names, anyone? Time to stop the fake news.Like CNN beginning every story with “sources.” Tell us. What sources? Admit the real reason for the protest. All of you leftists are just sore losers. No one wants to take away any ones rights. Everyone is referring to Trump and he never said those things. So relax and let… Read more »

Pierce
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Pierce

I participated and would do it again. But I found it horribly organized and ineffective. I was especially disappointed by the lack of representation of other communities in significant numbers and visibility. I would not have gone to Pride, however (just because I don’t go).

Shawn Thompson
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Shawn Thompson

Randy the issue at the core was to do the march was going to cost 9 million more dollars than the regular parade. And the expectation was a turn out like the woman’s march in #DTLA with 200,000 gay and gay allies coming to protest Trump. The price tag was high to ditch the parade for politics. I personally felt we could have a parade and have a protest another day. The parade is tradition, why change our gay traditions, because of a different president. I dont support Trump nor do I support his ideals. But in the end for… Read more »

90069
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90069

The #Resist March was a nice change of pace and well organized. I liked how it was more diverse and inclusive this year and had a broader message than “BUY MORE!” commercialism that 90% of the floats are in recent years with a rag tag collection of community groups and politicians mugging for the crowds.

Randy
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Randy

Shawn, we probably won’t know that for months. They were in the red last year as well. I can’t remember when they released those financials.

Shawn Thompson
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Shawn Thompson

Past all the spin and fast talk. How much with CSW be in the red this year? Hank?

Randy
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Randy

BTW, to clarify, when I said “You might think I’m in the minority, but I’m not sure what you are basing that on,” I meant to refer to the percentage of people who are upset about having a march. Attendance alone cannot determine that number. Yes, if attendance is the barometer of success, it sounds like a normal Pride parade was more successful than this one. My point is this. Every year I see people complain about the Pride Parade. Before and after. For a variety of reasons. Because it is always the same. Because it is too commercialized. Because… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

Rose, I never said “I have no interest.” I’ve lived here since 1999, and have been to all but 2 or 3 festivals and parades, only do to family obligations. I get that every Pride is someone’s first Pride, someone who might still be in the closet. I was one of those people, and I cherish that. But I can’t fault them for trying. Nobody tried to deny community organizations the freedom to march. In fact, many did, in this protest. You might think I’m in the minority, but I’m not sure what you are basing that on. Just because… Read more »

Jessica Mitford
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Jessica Mitford

What we need is a march against development and billboards along with removing the old guys running West Hollywood known as the Townscape Two plus Horvath! Elect someone like James Duke Mason. WEHO is changing and Duran & Heilman are waving at a parade that long passed them by.

Rose
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Rose

TRUE! But there are 364 other days of the year to choose from. Pride is about social issues, society’s views, and how the GLBTQ.. Community fees about itself.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Understood. I’m speaking in comparison to what we usually have, what we usually do. Which so many complain about, year after year. Assuming these numbers are accurate, I’d still rather see us take a year and take a political stand, than to have the same parade, a lot of which is there to promote commercial businesses (Micky’s, Wells Fargo, etc.). My point is, we shouldn’t use financial success of local businesses as a barometer of LA Pride’s “success.” Perhaps a hybrid event is in order in the future. A political march and rally, and the parade. Or they can go… Read more »

Rose
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Rose

…. And because you are tired of it, forget what it means and provides for each person coming out – a unique experience for everyone but with a universal shared experience that the Pride Parade Demonstrates. I went for a walk after I thought all was over. Countless people were angry, distraught … confused about there being no Parade. I returned home immediately. I live in weho, and the brochure for this year was not clear. MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN HAVE THAT. Pride is about love and acceptance and caring about others who may not be like us, but have… Read more »

Jim Nasium
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Jim Nasium

You’d be singing a different tune Randy if the 500,000 predicted by CSW showed up. Low turn out and little media attention is never what organizers want.

Randy
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Randy

I don’t see why we need to use the number of people who turned out as a marker of “success.” Is it a “success” to have the same old, same old, a lot of which includes floats for commercial businesses? I am curious to know how the local bars and restaurants did as compared to usual Pride Sunday, but this event should not be about making money. It sounds like they did OK, with what was reported here.

I would consider this a “success” if people had their voices heard. And they did, across several cities in this country.

Rose
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Rose

1, The attendance numbers was a big issue with the city as written about by wehoville ad nausea for a long time since last years event. I don’t have issue with that. 2. “the same old, same old” – for some people. I’m old, I don’t go to the Parade. BUT EVERY YEAR the “same old” is THE FIRST TIME EVER for countless people coming out, thinking about coming out, people not knowing where to go or do after coming out (we who live in weho and are old, know about all the bars (yes young 20’s go to bars)… Read more »