Opinion: Was This Weekend’s Pride What the Struggle for Gay Rights Was About?

Having walked the neighborhood up to Book Soup and down to Pavilions earlier Saturday evening, while having earlier enjoyed a nice pesto with tomato in my back garden to the deafening sometimes pleasant tunes blasted from the park up the street, and on that walk around dusk noticing the many groups of already inebriated, disoriented lonely young people sitting on curbs and crouching in building vestibules, I asked myself: Is this what the struggle for gay rights was all about?

Festival ticket holders lined up as far east as the entrance to the Metro Bus Depot (and back again)

Then, on returning home here at Rangely, where we tenants had crowded our cars into the common driveway given the insane overparking and traffic on our street, there arrived a barrage of helicopters with Krieg lights and announcements from the sky to get out and “move toward La Cienega.” There were massive traffic jams and people jostling to just get through this one thoroughfare. At least the helicopters reminded me of living in Echo Park in honest gang territory in the 80s.

And then, 11 p.m. Channel 4 KNBC News came on with reports and live shots of the entertainment (Little Coachella?) venue having been oversold (as I could have predicted when, already on my early evening walk along Melrose, the standing throngs went back to the PDC parking entrance) with fights breaking out within the fenced-in venue.

And so, I took a midnight walk just now up Robertson to Santa Monica Boulevard to San Vicente, tracing my route back since San Vicente was blocked for even pedestrian access by Sheriff’s deputies.

What I’ve witnessed is a West Hollywood self-promotional excrescence grown out of control and out of its possible boundaries of cultural relevance. This is no longer about Gay Liberation, Gay Pride or even the anodyne “Just Be.” It’s a vulgar maneuver on the part of West Hollywood, usurping Gay Liberation, for financial gain, while giving young gay people and their friends (especially from the outlying areas of L.A. County) a terrible, tawdry event for which they may have saved precious, hard-earned money to attend and not even getting into the music they were hoping for.

The City of West Hollywood and the idiotically named “Christopher Street West” need to shut this mini-Coachella farce down once and for all, especially before violence worse than this evening eventually erupts. Gay Pride should be an open, not fenced-in, gathering of an after-march event in Grand Park in downtown LA. West Hollywood should cease this pimping of young people, who cannot afford to live here, into this intoxicated delirium for a place essentially settled and lived in by misogynist homosexuals and their quasi-feminist allies. This historical dynamic influences everything, including “affordable” housing policy.

  1. Same complaints, different year. They obviously need a solution to the overcrowding/overselling, clearly everyone can admit that was a major screw up. The event is never going to be free again. Ever. You may as well give up on that one, it’s been coming up for many years, year after year. If you want more historic or educational inclusion in the festival, step up and be more proactive, stop just expecting that. Other than that, it’s still a great event, one of the highlights of the year, and this opinion piece is just more of the same NIMBYism. This is a festive and lively party oriented city with a reputation worldwide that has bars and clubs as its main draw, so party festival tie-ins are a natural fit and always will be. It’s a part of the deal living here. If you don’t like it, it’s time for you to find greener pastures.

  2. the worst weekend of the year…..for residents close to the event. we don’t want it here going forward. thank you.

  3. It’s gotten out of hand and too big for the area. On top of that…it has lost its true meaning behind the celebration. It’s gone from something the neighborhood as a whole looked forward to …..to a day we all dread because our neighborhood gets trashed. Move it to downtown and reinvent it to get it back to its true meaning of celebration.

  4. We need to not be such grannies and let people drink outdoors not just in a pen. Open the whole of Santa Monica Blvd to a donation entrance like San Francisco. Let it be a larger event. Today’s pride events are not the events of decades ago, nor should they be. Everything changes, thankfully.

  5. Basically this is now one of the newest installments to the growing amount of music festivals on the west coast. I don’t think that the majority of these party goers can even comprehend what is really being celebrated here. Nor do they have a clue as to the last 75 to 100 years of historical events that have led up to them having the freedom and privileges those of us over 40 once saw as a pipe dream.

  6. I really loved the historical display at Crescent Heights and it was an innovative use of an otherwise ugly eyesore. It reminded us of what we are celebrating.

    It is really way over due for us to ditch the irrelevant “Christopher Street West” moniker which in many ways was a code word back in the bad old days when you might not want to let straight people in on the secret. It is not like we are afraid of being called queer. This event needs to be the West Hollywood Pride Festival.

    For all the problems, both old and new, there is still a lot of vibrancy in the Celebration. While we never need an excuse to have a good time in West Hollywood, it is important that the event stays relevant while not forgetting the sacrifices that made it all possible.

    Steve Martin

    1. How is the Pride Event any different than a night out of Mickeys or Rage or The Abbey? It should be something different than another night out. There should be more booths and events that celebrate gay pride and history and how far we have come. Stonewall exhibits, ACT Up history in the 1980’s -something poltical etc. There is nothing unique and gay about pride – it is another Coachella and a huge cleanup and police expense to the city not to mention at a $25-$30 entrance fee it is exclusionary to many. Shameful – not prideful.

  7. Miss the days when pride was free. Now it’s all about $ . Would hate to see Pride moved to Downtown. That would suck if we had to drive all the way down there then back. Talk about a sh-t load of DUI’s . Also pride does help the local businesses so moving downtown would hurt the WEHO economy also…

    1. Dear Glen,

      What about all the people who live in LA all the way east out to Covina, Ontario and beyond who do drive into WeHo for this bar-concert commecrcial-driven event? Why should they not be able (along with LA City Eastsiders) to do “Pride” in LA’s wonderful downtown Grand Park? That WeHo Pride “does help the local businesses” is not an excuse but an indictment of what this pathetic event has become, breaking heads and hearts for big bucks. Whoever said West Hollywood was the home of Gay LA? Tell that to Silver Lake.

  8. The City of West Hollywood is never going to advocate shutting this event down. It is the biggest event in the city, even bigger than Halloween (because it spans three days, and more people travel to the city and stay here for this, overall).

    CSW needs to fix it, obviously. This year’s dysfunction is inexcusable, even if they had a smaller footprint in West Hollywood Park. Every year there seems to be a different problem. From too low attendance (resulting in losses), to this year’s overbooked attendance. I don’t expect “violence to erupt” if they don’t have a repeat of this year’s fiasco, where people were shut out, who had paid $30 a pop to get in and were left waiting forever, only to be told they couldn’t (two days in a row, no less).

    And yes, the goal of the organization needs to be re-evaluated. This subject comes up each and every year. One could argue that the Gay Civil Rights movement in the United States is over, except we have seen several steps backwards with our current presidential administration, and people are being oppressed all over the world.

    So, yeah, a political focus should be made of this event, whatever the new message is, and it should be less commercialized. I’m not sure what made people show up in record numbers this year, except maybe the talent they booked. Or perhaps the new bars that have opened (and are about to open) on Santa Monica Blvd. have made West Hollywood even more of a destination.

    I believe Pride can be fixed. I hope their new leadership gets them there. I agree that it should be free, except they will need less popular talent and a bigger space, which might be possible after West Hollywood Park construction is over. I’ve never understood why they don’t use the space in front of the PDC (I remember them using a parking lot there, but just once).

  9. Yes, the “festival” is shameful and dangerous. It should be free admission and more educational and chill. Downtown would be fine. Why were the ONE Institute’s wonderful historical placards exiled to the empty lot on Crescent Heights? They should have been front and center all weekend; they tell us why we have Pride events.

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