The Cancellation of This Year’s Physical LA Pride Will Hit WeHo’s Economy Hard

The crowd at West Hollywood Park for the LA Pride festival on Saturday night in 2018.

The cancellation of June’s traditional LA Pride Festival and Parade, announced yesterday, is likely to have a significant impact on West Hollywood’s economy. The cancellation is because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has essentially shut down the tourism and nightlife industries that generate significant tax revenue for the city and profits for local businesses.

Christopher Street West, the non-profit that has produced the annual parade and festival, said that it will reimagine the event this year in a digital form and hopes to return to the traditional parade and festival next year when the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Last year’s LA Pride resulted in $42.2 million in spending in Los Angeles County according to a study by Beacon Economics, a research and consulting firm engaged by CSW. The Beacon study also found the event increased economic output in Los Angeles County by $74.7 million of which $27.7 million was concentrated in West Hollywood and $18.2 million in the City of Los Angeles. Economic output is the value of goods and services provided during the Pride event.

It also increased labor income for workers in Los Angeles County by $33.1 million, including $14.7 million in West Hollywood and $7.4 million in the City of Los Angeles.

And it supported the annual equivalent of 830 jobs in L.A. County, including 397 in West Hollywood and 191 in the City of Los Angeles.

Beacon reported that the three-day event, which attracts visitors from across Southern California and from other cities and states, generated an estimated $2.5 million in tax revenue in Los Angeles County, including $896,100 in West Hollywood and $332,800 in the City of Los Angeles.

The city had budgeted $3.2 million to cover public safety and other costs associated with Pride. Given the revenue generated by the event and the estimated 125,000 people it attracts to West Hollywood, that expenditure has been supported by the City Council.

The City Council has yet to decide whether to cancel the annual Halloween Carnaval in October. A study by another consulting firm in 2016 reported that the 2014 Carnaval, a one-day event, generated $2.3 million in new spending in West Hollywood.

“The safety of the community is our top priority, and CSW must act responsibly to protect our community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Estevan Montemayor, president of the CSW Board of Directors, in an announcement of the Pride event cancellation. “Our community has always adapted, changed and become more resilient in the face of uncertain times. Although we cannot celebrate Pride with a festival or parade, CSW will make sure that the spirit of Pride is not forgotten. We are in this together, and we are here for you as we continue to navigate through this situation.”

“The LGBTQ+ community has overcome many obstacles over the years and has always emerged stronger and more unified. The 50th anniversary will be one to remember regardless of a physical experience this year, and our hope is to resume in-person events for our incredible milestone in 2021. Our community will once again look adversity directly in the face and rise up together in solidarity and celebration,” added Montemayor.

Madonna Cacciatore, CSW’s executive director, said that it is important that people “remember that Pride is not just about a specific month or weekend in June. Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community lives and breathes Pride every day … CSW is continuing to work with LA Pride partners to create a celebration over digital platforms, including participation in this year’s virtual Global Pride. As a community, weathering this storm together will unite us and increase our appreciation for one another.”

Christopher Street West organized the world’s first permitted parade advocating for gay rights on June 28, 1970, as a response to and in commemoration of the Stonewall Rebellion on Christopher Street in New York City the year prior.


16 Comments
  1. No one has the audacity to promote the idea of considering holding a scaled down, grass roots-organized parade? After 2 months of lockdowns this is exactly what we could use to boost our morale! Masks and being outdoors is EXTREMELY low risk. And the parade could be livestreamed for those who need or wish to remain in isolation.

  2. So if the CSW economic study is to be believed, we could simply dig our way out of an $18 million dollar municipal deficit by having MORE parades and festivals! I remain a staunch supporter of CSW but I am not subscribing to vodoo economics.

  3. To keep the rate of COVID-19 infections down,CSW needed to be cancelled.I know a lot of people will be disappointed,but it is just not smart to do such a large gathering at this time.

  4. Is it possible that we as a community need to diversify our tax base and become less nightlife dependent? We can still have what we had, but we need to adjust our thinking. We also need to understand what the City funds that directly benefit WEHO residents. I hope it’s time we can all better understand the budget, and the direct cost benefit for money being spent. Less revenue equals less services, or a smarter use of the revenue.

    1. I agree. West Hwd needs to be less nightlife dependent. The city is a one-trick pony in that regard.

  5. While I’m sorry to see the event cancelled, I think that the decision is the responsible one (ditto—almost inevitably—for Halloween; and thank Madonna & Estevan for guiding CSW to it. But the facts of the pandemic are what they are. I concur with Steve Martin in hoping that the city can see fit to diverting some of the funds that now won’t be needed for that weekend to instead see CSW through this to when Pride can resume: 2021 (or 2022, is my guess).

    Our community struggled through one plague: We’ll make it through this one too—if a little battered, scarred, and (tragically) likely missing a good number of folks who won’t survive this…but hopefully the better for enduring it and for heeding our better angels in service to others, to our community and our common values.

    I concur with Larry Block in his observation that “Pride” is not a weekend of partying; rather, it is a state of mind and dedication to the values of justice, dignity, love in service those left behind, and dignity for all.

  6. I know this was a disappointment to the hard working folks at Christopher Street West as well as for West Hollywood. I hope the City can work with CSW to insure it has operating revenue to get it through the year. We will be awaiting 2021 Pride with great anticipation.

    1. Good point.

      Though WE LIVE with year round pride, safety, numbers of similar people and countless resources (well referrals) the the enormously varied kind of services etc .. that many who flock to pride DO SEEK INFORMATION from local resources who put up informational booths to inform and welcome anyone interested to join in or direct them to resources like the LGBT center in Hollywood.

      BIT IT IS ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH.

      AN ECONOMY CAN RECOVER.

      DEATH (even if only 1 or 2 % of the population) CAN NOT RECOVER (and the lives of uneffected people, but lost a family member or very close friend, WILL NEVER HAVE THE SAME EMOTIONAL LET FE)

    1. While I understand it’s a major inconvenience for many residents, the demand for Pride to move Downtown always carries a whiff of homophobia to me. West Hollywood has been the epicenter of gay life for decades now and while Downtown certainly represents part of gay history, it belongs here for as long as the city can manage it. Maybe you should go out of town Pride weekend if it’s so terrible for you, as you can see from the article how valuable it is to our local economy.

      1. If this was some sort of straight event……you’d get exactly the same reaction from decent people that live here. A couple thousand drunks acting in a lurid manner…should not be welcome in any decent community. I have kids and the noise is unreasonable. Having people urinate in my yard and smoking pot in their cars outside of my house should not have to be tolerated. Waking up to beer and liquor bottles in the street….is not the sign of responsible people having a good time. I work in an industry here….with plenty of gay professionals (many close friends) and they agree that this event is counterproductive and lowbrow.

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