Thousands turn out for LA Pride parade’s return to Hollywood

Thousands of people, many with flags, walking along Hollywood Boulevard
Thousands gather along Hollywood Boulevard for the 2022 LA Pride Parade on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Kaylee Atkinson came to her first Los Angeles Pride parade Sunday with the two most important people in her life: her mom and dad.

Atkinson, 19, even picked out their outfits.

Mom wore a T-shirt that read: “If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now.”

People celebrating under a gigantic pride flag
Many of Sunday’s paradegoers said they were happy to be celebrating in person again.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Dad rocked a shirt that said: “Proud Dad of a Smartass Lesbian Daughter.”

“It feels like I belong here,” said Atkinson, who came out as a lesbian right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. “The support — it’s overwhelming.”


Such was the vibe in Hollywood this weekend as LA Pride held its first in-person parade in two years.

The parade, which drew thousands of people to Hollywood Boulevard, was the first outside the city of West Hollywood — the region’s iconic queer enclave — in more than 40 years. After a less-than-amicable pandemic divorce, LA Pride and West Hollywood went their own ways, with the city holding its own parade last weekend, just two miles away.

 Thousands gather along Hollywood Blvd at the 2022 LA Pride Parade.
Sunday’s parade was the first outside the city of West Hollywood — the region’s iconic queer enclave — in more than 40 years.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Despite some confusion over the double Pride weekends, paradegoers Sunday said they were just happy to be back, in person, at such a joyful celebration of LGBTQ people at a time when lawmakers across the country are debating whether transgender children can play in youth sports leagues, whether teachers can discuss same-sex relationships in the classroom, and whether parents who help their children seek gender-affirming care or take them to drag shows should be investigated for abuse.

On Saturday, police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near a Pride event that authorities said they were planning to disrupt. “They came to riot downtown,” Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference.

Amid the glitter and glam, LA Pride felt, to many, like a family affair.

Atkinson, a Cal State Northridge student, was beaming as she stood by her parents, who said they were horrified by recent anti-LGBTQ legislation. Her mother, Monica Bundy, said she was initially a little nervous hopping on a Metro train in the San Fernando Valley while decked out in rainbow gear, but that she quickly saw other people clearly going to the Pride parade and felt nothing but love.

Thousands gather along Hollywood Blvd at the 2022 LA Pride Parade.
For many, the parade Sunday felt like a family affair.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“We’re just honored she invited us,” Atkinson’s dad, Garrett Bundy, said. “We’re so proud of her.”

Jaida Harris of Santa Clarita brought her three children, ages 15, 13 and 8. She wore a shirt that said: “Mama Bear No Matter What.”

“It’s not controversial for us,” Harris, 41, said of bringing her children.

Harris’ 15-year-old son has special needs, and she said she wanted to teach her kids that all people deserve love.

Thousands gather along Hollywood Blvd at the 2022 LA Pride Parade
Revelers at Sunday’s Pride parade.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“This is the most important thing we can do as parents — it’s not jobs or school. It’s raising kids who accept and love, no matter what,” she said. “Some people will say, ‘You’re going to have to explain a lot to the kids —’”


“— then explain it to them,” her 13-year-old daughter, Brighton, cut in.

Before the parade began, 8-year-old Rebel McKenna — wearing overalls shorts, a pair of gold-glitter Mary Janes and a rainbow flag as a cape — twirled around on an empty Hollywood Boulevard.

“Is the Pride starting?” she asked her older siblings with a grin.

Her sister, Ashlie Smith, 23, of Redondo Beach, said she knew Rebel would enjoy the rainbows — and that she wanted her to know that “it’s completely normal, it’s OK to be anything you want to be.”

Her brother, Chris McKenna, 21, who is bisexual, said that seeing the news these days makes him feel “like we’re going backward.” He grew up with marriage equality and a broadly more-accepting society, he said, and it’s daunting to now live in a world where his rights are once again up for debate.

Women on motorcycles in the street
Sunday’s parade began with a group of women revving their motorcycles.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

As a group of women on motorcycles revved their engines to kick off the parade, a young man with a pink and blue transgender Pride flag draped around his shoulders stood on humorist Will Rogers’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and screamed, “Let’s gooooo!”

Nearby, Navia Mann held a rainbow-colored sign that read: “God is obsessed with you.”

Mann, 43, was walking in the parade with her nondenominational, LGBTQ-friendly congregation, InVision Church L.A., where she and her wife are members. When people have seen them in the parade in years past, she said, they have cried and ran up to them for hugs.

Paradegoers cheering atop a tour bus
“This is the most important thing we can do as parents ... It’s raising kids who accept and love, no matter what,” said one parent who brought her children to the parade.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve always been a Christian,” Mann said. “I’ve always been a lesbian. I’ve always been secure with God’s love for me.”

As the first floats rolled past, a young woman wearing a pair of feathery, rainbow-colored angel wings wept with joy. The crowd cheered as a group of employees of Disney — which is enmeshed in heated debates over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation — marched by in shirts that read, “We are the magic,” and passed out rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse stickers.

During one lull between floats, a homeless man in sandals and a thick coat walked alone down the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, revelers on both sides of him. Some clapped. When a woman yelled, “We love you!” he looked at her, perplexed, and kept walking.

As a group of Hot Topic employees — proud goths sporting matching black T-shirts, with several in fishnet stockings and black lipstick — marched by, a man in the crowd screamed, delightedly: “Oh my God, Hot Topic!”

Aboard the Grindrand Astroglide float, a drag queen waved from atop a giant purple eggplant. And members of the West Hollywood City Council danced atop a float promoting their own, separate WeHo Pride.

A parade participant wearing a pink wig
Thousands gather for Sunday’s LA Pride Parade.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Lydia Mahoney watched with her ex-husband, Jared, to whom she was married for four years before coming out as a lesbian. They said they are still best friends and picked out loud outfits for their first Pride parade: rainbow-colored shorts and suspenders for her, and a pink feather boa, tutu and tiara for him.

“I’m so happy to be able to support her,” said Jared, 28.

“This is so fun,” added Lydia, 25. “It’s such a celebration. Just seeing the joy — it’s contagious.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.