LA Pride is leaving West Hollywood after four decades in the city
LA Pride, one of the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ pride celebrations, is leaving West Hollywood after more than four decades in the iconic gay-friendly city.
In a letter to the West Hollywood City Council on Tuesday, Christopher Street West, the nonprofit that produces LA Pride, says the annual parade and festival will be moved from the city in 2021. A new location has not been announced.
“The Board of Directors decided to take this approach for several reasons,” the letter says. “These include construction in West Hollywood Park, the changing demographics of Greater Los Angeles, our commitment to being responsive to the LGBTQIA+ community’s needs, and our allyship and collaboration with other movements for social change.”
LA Pride, which has taken place in West Hollywood every summer since 1979, draws hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year.
It is a major economic driver for local bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other businesses, many of which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic of late.
West Hollywood responded with a statement Tuesday that emphasized the city’s LGBTQ history, saying the city embraces “Pride each and every day, year-round.”
“With its high concentration of LGBTQ residents and businesses — more than 40% of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay — the City of West Hollywood remains the heart of the region’s LGBTQ community,” the city’s statement reads.
At a meeting Monday, the City Council is set to discuss how to select an event production company for LGBTQ pride events in West Hollywood next June.
In recent years, Christopher Street West — named after the New York City street on which the Stonewall Inn stands — has been criticized as too white, too corporate and dismissive of transgender people.
In 2017, the annual parade morphed into the #ResistMarch to protest the election of President Trump. This year, the parade — which started in the Los Angeles city limits in 1970 and was celebrating its 50th anniversary — was canceled because of COVID-19.
The L.A. Pride parade, which would have marked its 50th year, joins the list of events canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
After the killing of George Floyd in May, Christopher Street West announced what was called a solidarity march with Black Lives Matter, to be held on the same day the LA Pride parade would have taken place.
But the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles group never endorsed the event, and numerous leaders within the Black LGBTQ community said Christopher Street West did not communicate with them before announcing it.
Critics said organizers appropriated the Black Lives Matter cause in order to hold a “mini Pride” and denounced Christopher Street West for trying to organize the march collaboratively with the Los Angeles Police Department.
On June 14, tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Hollywood and West Hollywood for the All Black Lives Matter march, which was organized by a newly formed group, Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change, or BLAC, whose board is composed entirely of Black LGBTQ people.
In an email to The Times, West Hollywood Councilman John D’Amico said he was “excited that we’re given a clean slate” to determine how the city would celebrate Pride Month in ways “more reflective of the times.”
Last week, D’Amico submitted an agenda item asking his City Council colleagues to discuss opening the bidding process for a new producer for LGBTQ pride events.
According to the agenda item, the city, which co-sponsors LA Pride, has supported the event with direct financial contributions to Christopher Street West, providing access to municipal facilities and emergency services support, including medical tents and law enforcement.
The city’s financial contribution in 2015 was about $500,000, the agenda item states. If it had taken place this year, public safety costs were estimated to be around $2.7 million, with the city’s full contribution just under $3 million.
The pride parade in West Hollywood has served as a spectacle, talent show, celebration, political movement and memorial.
D’Amico said he “had grown uncomfortable with spending nearly $3 million on a party — and never soliciting bids to be sure we were getting our money’s worth — especially now.”
In its letter to the City Council, the Christopher Street West board members said they had had a positive relationship with West Hollywood and that, although locations might change, they wanted to “explore opportunities for collaboration in 2021 and beyond and hope West Hollywood can be part of a more diversified celebration throughout Greater Los Angeles.”
Mayor Lindsey Horvath said in an email that the city and Christopher Street West had “enjoyed an incredible partnership, and, on a personal note, I will treasure the memories I have made celebrating Pride with CSW within our city.”
Councilman John Duran told The Times in an email that West Hollywood would have its own pride events next summer, separate from LA Pride and Christopher Street West.
“We remain the heart of the LGBT community in Southern California and will continue to do so,” he said. “There are numerous Prides in Southern California on an annual basis in Long Beach, Orange County and the San Fernando Valley. West Hollywood Pride will continue uninterrupted as it always has on Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente.”
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