Thousands lined Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood Sunday for the 2019 LA Pride Parade, the ultimate event in a three-day celebration themed #JustUnite, images of which were captured by Derek Wanker and posted at the end of this story.
The parade began at 11 a.m. at Crescent Heights Boulevard and continued west along Santa Monica Boulevard to Robertson Boulevard. People were seen arranging their folding chairs along the route as early as 8 a.m.
The theme is a call “to set aside our differences and celebrate what truly unites us” and “to stop working against each other and, instead, start working with each other to make our community stronger and more resilient than ever before,” according to festival organizers.
Longtime AIDS activist Phill Wilson was the community grand marshal. The Los Angeles LGBT Center was the organizational grand marshal. Actor and writer Ryan O’Connell was the celebrity grand marshal.
Wilson is president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, which he founded in 1999. The institute describes itself as the nation’s only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on black people. Its mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in black communities by engaging and mobilizing black leaders, institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Los Angeles LGBT Center bills itself as providing services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world.
O’Connell is the creator and star of the Netflix comedy “Special,” about a gay man with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants. The series is based on his memoir, “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.”
The grand marshals are chosen by the board of directors of Christopher Street West, the nonprofit organization that produces the parade and festival, based on a number of factors, including their lifetime accomplishments and service to the LGBTQ+ community.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti walked in the parade alongside Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also walked in the parade wearing a special Pride Patch featuring rainbow flag colors that he had authorized for sale online to benefit the LA LGBT Center’s Homeless Youth Shelter.
Members of the West Hollywood City Council and about a dozen members of city boards and commissioners rode the parade route on a float.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D- Los Angeles, also participated in the parade.
Among the dozens of floats was a co-branded one for the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Galaxy and AEG, the parent company of the Kings and Galaxy, featuring a variety of Kings personalities.
The parade was first held in 1970 in Hollywood, where it was held until 1979 when it moved to West Hollywood.