Opinion: Why Do We Celebrate LA Pride With Sexual and Racist Profanity?

Rhea Litré performing at the 2019 LA Pride Festival. (@GayWeHo Instagram)

Only making eye contact brought tears of happiness to my eyes. She was a middle-aged woman with a shirt that said, “Free Mom Hugs.” There on the sidewalk at the intersection of Robertson and Santa Monica boulevards, I reflected on mine and my mother’s rough coming out journey and how proud I was of this random mom for being such a positive LGBTQ+ ally.

Not long after, I saw another mom dragging her young son by the arm from the parade route. Her reason? Rhea Litré’s choice of songs and performances on stage at the LA Pride Parade 2019.

Whether or not Pride should rival a music festival is not the matter at hand. Although, it should be noted that the presence of a stage near the parade route’s end did prove to be quite a distraction from the actual parade. Parts of the parade included chants, drumlines, bagpipes, floats with DJ’s and speakers, etc. These were all drowned out by none other than Rhea screaming the f-bomb at the crowd and lyrics like, “Eight-inch big, ooh, that’s good pipe. Bad bitch, I’ma ride the dick all night. ” Needless to say, Pride had left the building – and so did that mom and her child. We lost an ally.

Christopher Street West, the event’s organizers, advertised the parade as such, “Come create a memorable #JUSTUNITE moment as thousands from LA’s LGBTQ+ community – including our amazing straight allies – come together in the spirit of unity.” The LA Times once referred to LA Pride as being, “a spectacle, talent show, celebration, political movement, and memorial.” This year’s parade route stage show was a spectacle alright, but it lacked purpose and decency.

The three-day festival involves a multitude of events, venues, and activities. It’s indisputable the parade is the by far most public facing of them all. Although stationary, Rhea had the most massive and loudest platform of anyone in the entire parade. Thankfully ABC7’s coverage of the parade didn’t include this portion of the route. Well, it couldn’t have. The n-word was used 18 times in one two-minute song alone. That’s in addition to other vulgarities in the music screamed by Rhea and her guests on the mic.

Her guests were introduced as being “the king of twerk,” and a “porn star turned recording artist.” The second of whom, Brandon Wilde, donned a neon pink thong leotard. That is who stood on the most significant stage in the parade. Brilliant. The performance was briefly paused to allow an activist to speak about the murders of trans people of color.  For clarity, a white DJ’s set containing nearly 10 “n-words” a minute was paused so a black woman could talk about trans POC murder rates. Double brilliant.

Pride is the last thing I felt standing there on the side of the parade route. I thought of Stonewall and of previous parade grand marshals like Harvey Milk and Maxine Waters. Imagine Harvey Milk waving from a parade float, as Rhea screams, “How the f-ck are you West Hollywood?!” Instead, the more appropriate use of that word is to say that CSW has once again f-cked up and failed the LA LGBTQ+ community. While Rhea could have made better choices, it’s ultimately the organizers who dropped the ball by not pre-screening her set.

Those three, that music, this situation… It made me go from wishing my mother was here with me to celebrate, to better understanding why she believed what she did about the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing that mother leave with her son hit home and hit hard. I understood her actions, and better understood my mom’s. We’re not talking boys in Speedo’s dancing on a fire truck… we’re talking a bare ass porn star singing, “spread my ass, take a lick, arch my back, I want that dick.” Rhea Litré and CSW, you owe that mom an apology.


36 Comments
  1. I have mixed feelings about this article. I agree that our Pride celebration should be accessible to all, including families and children. However, I also believe that positive sexuality should be expressed. I live in the community and stopped attending the parade years ago because it was too boring. I’d attend if I knew there were sexy performances! Is it unreasonable to think we could have some events that are PG-13 and others that are NC-17? I can’t imagine there’s no solution to this.

  2. Wow. You all just really like to be mad, huh? Lol.

    And yes, let’s all clutch our pearls at “foul” language and ignore bigger issues like how this is all just a dog whistle for slut shaming, censorship and shutting out people of color. (Oh no! Not a song with the N-word!)

    Lest we forget that two men kissing on New Years Eve were arrested for public INDECENCY at the Black Cat. Im sure there were many articles back in the day on how they should’ve kept that display to themselves.

    Lest we forget Jewels Catch One was literally created because of West Hollywood gay bars denial of black and latino patrons. And unfortunately, Caucasian people still think they have the right to tell people of color how to refer to themselves, their peers, and what they should be offended by. Sigh.

    Oh, and by the way, do any of you work at a corporation? Pretty awful that the big corporation you work for or regularly shop at would show their support for you. I mean, who do they think they are?

    Ya’ll gotta love yourself more and stop trying to control other peoples truths and narratives. Live your own. You’ll be happier that way.

    1. Hey HasHadHerses, thanks for your input. The follow-up article just dropped if you’d like to have a read. Here’s an excerpt relevant to your comment…

      “You can debate what Pride and Pride Parades CAN or SHOULD be all day long; I’m upset over how it was advertised versus what was delivered. There is no question there is a discrepancy between the two.”

      https://www.wehoville.com/2019/06/12/opinion-why-i-cared-how-we-celebrate-pride-and-who-i-was-criticizing/

  3. I attended the parade for the last time several years ago when I saw someone dressed as Jesus Christ on a float simulating sex acts. I left at that moment and have never gone again.

  4. Embarrassment.

    Reject the vulgarity and try showing a little dignity if you want to be taken seriously as a group. These idiots damage our reputation and hold us back from progressing. The “new normal” is going to end up forcing people back into the closet out of fear of being associated with these dregs of society. They are our equivalent to the straight’s “trailer trash”.

    Not everyone desires to be a Kardashian wannabe or a porn star. Some of us actually spent our formative years going to college, starting a professional career and our reputations need to be protected….we are the ones with the disposable income to pour into the gay economy….we buy and use our porn stars with the money we make from our professional careers. Without us, they can’t survive (hashtag leaches).

    That is the only time we associate with you, behind closed doors-in private, which is where your vulgarity needs to be kept, so we can progress in society and make changes. Push THEM into the closet and allow those of us who can be taken seriously to be the face of the group and see how much faster you will see a change in acceptance.

    1. Your comments are the equivalent of the behavior you speak about so disdainfully. Shamelessness is shamelessness, whether through words or action. Assuming you are a member of the LGBTQ community, try to have a little more tolerance for those who are different than you, rather than inferring they are lesser and should be hidden. We can disagree with other people’s choices without denying them their visibility. What do you think Pride is about? Until I read your comments, I was in agreement that perhaps we as a community do go too far at times, but now I realize WHY we have to continue pushing envelopes.

      1. How far you wanna push it. People having sex on the floats? They’re almost there. Respect? How about respecting that not all gay people want to act like a bunch of low class, over-sexed, obnoxious, foul-mouthed individuals. Have fun, be crazy…just try and do it with some self-respect and respect for others.

    2. The straights have a doo daa parade in Pasadena every year to show the real side of human nature and the pretentiousness of the Rose Parade. Ms. JackieO (my goodness) have been in it twice. It’s real, it’s not phony and neither should our Pride Parade.

  5. I don’t go to Pride because I don’t need to see or hear some of the things I’m guaranteed to see or hear. I don’t go to Mardi Gras for the same reason but somehow I never hear of attendees being shocked, appalled and scandalized by people drinking themselves insensate and baring body parts for beads. It’s Pride, not Gay Country Safari. If you want an anodyne Pride celebration guaranteed to be family friendly , there’s one at the Grove tomorrow at 6:30.

  6. Basically what your calling for is a Pride that caters to straight people. That wouldn’t be a gay pride then. Like it or not the LGBTQ community is made up of many individuals who express themselves in diverse ways. If you don’t like that you don’t have to attend. I hear there’s A pride parade in Boston that might be more your style.

    1. Hey Seaguy, thanks for your input. The follow-up article just dropped if you’d like to have a read. Here’s an excerpt relevant to your comment…

      “You can debate what Pride and Pride Parades CAN or SHOULD be all day long; I’m upset over how it was advertised versus what was delivered. There is no question there is a discrepancy between the two.”

      https://www.wehoville.com/2019/06/12/opinion-why-i-cared-how-we-celebrate-pride-and-who-i-was-criticizing/

  7. Yes, let’s all cater our Gay pride parades to straight people and their children. I mean they are already taking over many of the homes and apartments in West Hollywood and the “gay bars” have never been more full of straight women making fools of themselves, not to mention the straight bartenders and straight gogo dancers who come to Weho to make money off the gays. West Hollywood was once a place of free expression. It was a home to the gays, the outcasts and people who were different. Now we’re going to shove all that under the table for straight people bringing their kids out. F that. Straight people can go find their own parades and festivals. How dare you ask the gays to change or bend to cater to their needs.

    1. I agree with you, Stephen, about the bars in WeHo which have been tamed to the point of hardly resembling what they used to be. Women came in and then they complained when they saw gay guys doing what gay guys do. Here Lounge, which was rebuilt to become The Chapel, was done in by the presence of straight people; a straight dancer exposed himself to a straight woman and forced her hand onto his penis. A straight employee there raped a straight girl in the bathroom. At Mickey’s straight bartenders didn’t like gay guys being too gay and they forced change that made Mickey’s a very different place.

      I go to gay bars in other large cities and they are what bars here used to be. What happened in West Hollywood that our bars became a lot less gay and a lot less fun? Maybe they took the concept of inclusiveness too far and ruined it for all of us.

    2. Hey Stephen, thanks for your input. The follow-up article just dropped if you’d like to have a read. Here’s an excerpt relevant to your comment…

      “You can debate what Pride and Pride Parades CAN or SHOULD be all day long; I’m upset over how it was advertised versus what was delivered. There is no question there is a discrepancy between the two.”

      https://www.wehoville.com/2019/06/12/opinion-why-i-cared-how-we-celebrate-pride-and-who-i-was-criticizing/

  8. I am so VERY glad to read this article. Hopefully, it may help to spark a shift in our community. The answer to your question is simple. For how long have LGBTQI people been defined by sex and their sexual practices??? Decades? Centuries? Millenia?? If that is how people define you, that is how you often define yourself. Right…?

    So that is who we think we are. So please forgive me, because I do NOT mean this pejoratively, but to a large segment of the community, because of the social pressures we have faced, we have to admit that a certain percentage of our community defines themselves by extreme sexuality. If sex is how you are defined, does that not make at least a certain amount of sense?

    So that’s where the spark comes in. Are we ready to change? I lost my first love by calling it so. That was the era I was born into. So much has changed since then. Are we ready for more change? Where is the seminal event that will kick off, at least within our community, an acceptance of ourselves beyond our sexuality? Must we always flash dildos and jock straps to feel secure in our identity? Or is Pride just a safe-space selective outburst of freedom?

    We been released from the closet, and allowed to erect picket fences on our property. There are many of our ancestors who would give entire limbs to live in such a time. But where does that leave us as a community?

    I have long thought that the gift of the LGBTQI community was a greater understanding of the nature of human sexuality. A free-er sexuality. One defined by one’s self, not a doctor, not one’s parents or community, but by the very roots of one’s being.

    But where does that leave us as a community? It is a discussion we need to have. Are we brave enough to have it??

  9. I was horrified by Rhea and Brandon. My mother came in from El Monte and left in disgust! Thanks for this article to stop this garbage.

  10. Well stated, Mr. Holden. Thank you for writing this. There is sometimes a great lack of judgement in WeHo, whether it is to whom we hand out keys to the city or which acts they hire. Getting on a stage and shouting profanities into a mic, doth not pass for art nor pride. It HAS been turning into a music festival for that last few years. Not much pride. Sad state of affairs.

  11. The “white DJ” you refer to, called DJ Pastabody, real name Anthony Torres, is Puerto Rican. Not that you took five seconds to fact check your defaming article before publishing it. Another white person trying to speak for people of color in feigned horror on our behalf.

    1. So, tell us Monique, when did it become okay for Hispanic individuals to shout the “n” word into s microphone? This event is billed as A Celebration of Pride. What pride is there in this performance and how did it further the cause of equality and unity?

      1. The music had the n word. So maybe re-read. It said the set. He’s a dj not a comedian so set means m u s i c.

          1. you said he “shouted the n word into a microphone. That didn’t happen. Don’t spread false information like that.

    2. Hey Monique, thanks for your input. The follow-up article just dropped if you’d like to have a read. Here’s an excerpt relevant to your comment…

      “Regarding the use of the N-Word, that’s not my place to have commented. I was personally taken off guard by its frequency of use in that setting, but I understand that some find the word to be empowering to take ownership of and support their fight and right to do so. I should not have spoken on behalf of a group who’s fight is not my own.”

      https://www.wehoville.com/2019/06/12/opinion-why-i-cared-how-we-celebrate-pride-and-who-i-was-criticizing/

  12. I whole-heartedly agree. This is NOT Folsom Street Fair, as dynamic and fun as that can be, this is (as has said ad nauseum) the oldest Gay Pride Parade and thus, SHOULD try to maintain a certain level of good judgement & try to raise the social awareness not undermine the efforts. It is not a warehouse party.

  13. Shaming sex acts and sex workers is in fact a burden to the cause. Quit clutching pearls and keep in mind that the people who have always done the heavy lifting for queer liberation have been those of us who are gender non conforming and sex workers (and often, both)

    Thank u, next, James.

    1. He was not shaming sex workers and people of color for their status but for their abundant use of offensively vulgar language.

    2. Hey Casey, thanks for your input. The follow-up article just dropped if you’d like to have a read. Here’s an excerpt relevant to your comment…

      “I did allow the passion I felt about the subject to influence my writing and used the fact he was a porn star in an attempt to strengthen my argument. For that, I apologize to you, Brandon and all sex workers, for weaponizing that stigma. I do hold fast that the lyrics of his song were too graphically explicit for the Public Stage, but do not think his being a porn star makes him less deserving to be on that stage.”

      https://www.wehoville.com/2019/06/12/opinion-why-i-cared-how-we-celebrate-pride-and-who-i-was-criticizing/

  14. All I Can Say Is “Here Here”!!! as a previous 12 yr manager in CSW who got ousted by the egotistical, materialistic and self-promoting snobs. I am disgusted at what LA Pride has become. When was the last time CSW actually donated money to charity? When was the last time volunteers actually worked the bars, stalls and more to earn charity for their organization? Why is everything outsourced to companies costing CSW thousands? The Operations Leader calls himself “Event Producer” because he wants the title and to show off. No mention of Stonewall, No theme in unity. The whole thing is a vanity project for a select few while those who died and suffered for its very existence go noticed.

    1. It’s sad to see how Pride has transgressed. It’s now a money making machine. Missed it’s original point of showing the real pride in our contribution to society and that we are relevant decent human being and not defined by our sexuality.

  15. I’m a lot more troubled by the grotesque commercialization of Pride. When a contingent from Johnson & Johnson (the maker of the fentanyl patch) rolled by I was just disgusted. It’s bad enough to have Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America in the parade, but a fentanyl maker who is under legal siege for contributing to the opioid crisis??? Heck, why not let the drug cartels have a float? I bet they’d pay big time for that. Harvey Milk would be appalled by how sold-out to corporate interests Pride has become.

    1. MikeInWeho – Unlike you, it made me very happy to see so many different companies celebrate Pride. I don’t think Harvey Milk would be upset. I think he’d be happy to see so many large corporations standing by with the LGBT community. What made me upset, was seeing the one float should “F the Police” – right behind the Police walking in the parade. That was a disgrace. What do you want to be in the parade?

  16. I couldn’t agree more! As I walked the festival and street of WeHo this past weekend, I found myself not feeling a sense of pride for the strides made by our community, but rather shame and embarrassment by the drug and alcohol fueled hyper-sexualized atmosphere of the celebration. One can celebrate diversity and pride without excessive drug/alcohol use and vulgarity.

  17. Thanks for speaking out on this. Agreed that the stage on the street at the very least should have clean music. It is not that much effort to self-censor the most explicit of lyrics to be welcoming and family friendly. This was a huge oversight that will hopefully be rectified. It should also apply to ALL the stages but maybe we need baby steps before a little bit of decorum is acceptable even if we can be “free” to express ourselves.

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