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Coronavirus torpedoes 50th L.A. Pride parade; online celebration planned

Revelers enjoy the 49th L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood.
Revelers enjoy the festivities at the 49th L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood in 2019.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

The 50th-anniversary L.A. Pride celebration, one of the state’s largest gay and lesbian rights festivals, has been postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, held annually in West Hollywood, is shifting this year to an online celebration, according to nonprofit organizer Christopher Street West. Information about the digital events will be announced later.

“Our community has always adapted, changed and become more resilient in the face of uncertain times,” Estevan Montemayor, president of the CSW’s board of directors, said in a statement. “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.”

As West Hollywood’s LGBTQ community watches gay bars and other gathering spots close to stem the coronavirus, some draw parallels to the AIDS crisis of 40 years ago.
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In West Hollywood, thousands flock to the city — historically an oasis for the LGBTQ community — every June to watch the parade along Santa Monica Boulevard that features colorful floats and people dancing and singing. The parade also serves as a political movement and memorial, commemorating the Stonewall uprising in New York once every decade.

Festival organizers urged attendees to see the silver lining of this year’s decision, saying it was made in the best interest of the community.

“Pride is more than just one weekend in a year. Or even a month,” organizers said on their website. “Pride is something that we live and breathe every day. Whether we celebrate LA Pride in mid-June (as we’ve done for the last 49 years) or, for this one specific year, decide to move it to another weekend, our celebration, our voices, our struggles, our triumphs, and our never-ending message for equality never stops.”

These are some of the unusual new scenes across the Southland during the coronavirus outbreak.
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West Hollywood’s Pride parade is just the latest event to be canceled or postponed because of the pandemic.

In April, San Diego Pride canceled its annual July event, which draws up to 350,000 people over a three-day celebration. San Francisco also announced it was scrapping its annual Pride festival.

The California State Fair and Food Festival, held in Sacramento and dating back 166 years, and the counties of Ventura, Orange and San Diego also canceled their annual summertime fairs over coronavirus concerns.

County Fairs from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay area have been canceled, and large music festivals have been postponed over the coronavirus.
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