The typically joyous L.A. Pride Parade in West Hollywood will take on a somber tone Sunday in the wake of the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that killed at least 50 people.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are stepping up security efforts for the parade Sunday, which for many has become a way to memorialize the victims at the Pulse nightclub.
“Of course we are grieving and angry and we need to express that. We also need to make sure we don’t allow this hateful incident to silence us,” said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The gunman has been preliminarily identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said. The gunman -- who investigators said may have had radical Islamic leanings -- was killed by a SWAT team after taking hostages at Pulse, a popular gay club, investigators said at an early morning news conference.
Though many of Sunday’s parade attendees may be wondering if they should still go, Jean said, she urged them to “be celebratory in the face of bigotry and fear.”
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said officials do not believe there is any threat around Sunday’s activities. Gun violence against a gay nightclub during Pride month “makes me sick,” Horvath said, and it was a reminder that the LGBTQ community still has a lot to fight for.
“The deadliest mass shooting in America happened to LGBTQ people on Latin night. While we mourn this heartbreaking loss, we must also rededicate ourselves to the fight for equality for all people,” said Horvath in a statement.
Christopher Street West, the nonprofit organizers behind LA Pride, along with the city of West Hollywood will be holding a news conference before Sunday’s LGBTQ parade in West Hollywood at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards followed by a moment of silence.
“Forty-six years ago, members of the LGBTQ community came out in cities across the country in response to the Stonewall riots,” Chris Classen, L.A. Pride president, said in a statement. “Today, we are heartbroken that so many of our brothers, sisters and allies were lost in this tragic [attack]. As we remember them today at our moment of silence, we must continue to show our pride, not just today but every day.
“Our brave founders made this happen to show the world who we are. We will be loud. We will be proud and we will celebrate in honor of all those lost.”
Many have turned to social media to encourage turnout at the L.A. Pride parade in support of the nightclub victims, including one person who tweeted, “I will march for you today.”
The parade will include remembrances of the victims of the nightclub shooting, said West Hollywood Councilman John Jude Duran in a Facebook update. Duran said some have reached out to ask the city to cancel the parade.
“No,” Duran wrote on his Facebook. “We will march for LGBT rights and pride as we have every year since 1970.”
The festival celebrating the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community kicked off Friday with a musical lineup that features more than 40 artists, headlined by pop stars Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen. Held in West Hollywood Park, festival hours are noon to 11 p.m. on Sunday.
The Pride parade begins at 10:45 a.m. Sunday on Santa Monica Boulevard and is expected to end at 2 p.m. This year’s grand marshal is Jewel Thais-Williams, who owned the historic Catch One Disco until it closed last year and cofounded the Minority AIDS Project.
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10:02 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from Classen and details about a news conference before the L.A. Pride parade.
9:20 a.m.: This post has been updated with more details about the L.A. Pride parade and comments from officials.
This article was originally published at 7:35 a.m.