Gays Give Riordan Warm Welcome : Parade: Despite his conservative base, the mayor-elect’s appearance was applauded by many. More than 400,000 attend the annual festivities in West Hollywood.


Not quite three weeks ago, he got less than 30% of the gay and lesbian vote. But on Sunday, mayor-to-be Richard Riordan got an enthusiastic welcome as he rode in the 23rd annual Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade.

Riordan, sitting up on the back seat of an off-white 1952 Chrysler Imperial convertible, next to City Councilman Joel Wachs, waved and acknowledged the applause as the classic car rolled down the streets of West Hollywood, where more than 400,000 people had gathered for the parade, according to organizers and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Some gay rights activists had predicted that Riordan, a Republican, would be booed and hissed along the parade’s route because of support he received from many Christian fundamentalist groups that condemn homosexuality, and because his law firm, Riordan & McKinzie, is the legal counsel to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Many gay rights and AIDS activist groups are in conflict with the church and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony for his opposition to safe-sex education and needle exchange programs intended to halt the spread of the AIDS virus.

“I don’t really trust Riordan,” said gay rights activist Mark Jones, who is also a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. “He has talked some good talk, but ACT UP neither supports nor opposes candidates because some time in their career they’ll eventually piss us off.”

But Visalia resident Janet Redeker, 31, who drove here with her lover for the weekend’s events, said Riordan’s presence was a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s great that he’s riding along, no matter who he’s affiliated with,” Redeker said. “A lot of people voted for him, and to see him actually here says something about him.”

When asked how his ride in the two-mile parade might sit with his conservative supporters, Riordan said: “I think they understand that my Administration is going to be inclusionary. It’s going to include the Christians and gays and lesbians and it’s not going to exclude anyone.”

Riordan was invited to participate in the parade within days of winning the election, and he accepted, said Bob Gervasoni, president of Christopher Street West/Los Angeles, the parade and festival’s organizers.


As evidence that Riordan can be open-minded on the matter, Gervasoni said one of Riordan’s law partners is openly gay. That attorney, Michael F. Keeley, has worked at Riordan & McKinzie for almost 12 years and says Riordan has been supportive “from the start.”

Keeley recalled that Riordan supported him in 1984 during a performance review, when Keeley was still an associate. “In the end of the review Dick said (to the other partners), ‘And as all of you know, Mike is gay and that’s not going to bother us.’ ”

The mayor-elect also surprised James Hulse, AIDS activist and co-founder of ACT UP/Los Angeles, by his remarks at a meeting of AIDS Project Los Angeles during the campaign.

“He said that he doesn’t often agree with the cardinal and we were all taken aback, because nobody had mentioned the cardinal,” Hulse said.

“There was tremendous disappointment that Michael Woo wasn’t elected,” Gervasoni said. “However, when I talk to my peers, even though they were disappointed, they seem to be optimistic (about Riordan),” largely because he agreed to take part in the parade.

Although posters outlining Riordan’s support among conservatives --titled “Meet Your Mayor”--were plastered along the parade route, any heckling as Riordan rode by was sparse, and often more constructive than condemning.


“Hey Dick, remember us!” yelled Jim Griglak, 36, of Los Angeles as Riordan rolled by. Although he voted for Woo, Griglak hoped that Riordan would take the city’s gay and lesbian constituency seriously.

“Since Joel (Wachs) is with him, I think he’ll try, but I just want to make sure he’ll remember us,” Griglak said, referring to Wachs’ support of gay and lesbian issues in the council.

The parade, which began at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards, capped off this year’s Gay & Lesbian Pride Celebration. That event began Thursday with a free concert in West Hollywood Park and continued over the weekend with a two-day festival at the Pacific Design Center.

The event--with this year’s theme “A Family of Pride”--coincided with San Francisco’s 24th annual Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade on Sunday.

The San Francisco parade featured thousands, including grand marshal Navy Petty Officer Keith Meinhold, who has been battling the Navy after officials attempted to have him discharged when he revealed his homosexuality on national television.

San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan canceled plans to ride in the parade after several groups threatened to disrupt his appearance in retaliation for proposed cutbacks in health programs, including those for AIDS patients and rape victims.