Back in 2013, then–L.A. Weekly staff writer Patrick Range McDonald complained that L.A. Pride had become an "outdated, adolescent mess," a celebration more about good times than about "fighting for our right to serve our country, to legally marry the person we love, to be out and not be fired for it and to play in professional sports without some kind of retribution."
Pride, McDonald said, should be "a political statement." Well, now it is. This year, L.A. Pride's annual parade will be taken over by the June 11 Resist March, organizer Brian Pendleton says. The switch is clearly a response to the presidency of Donald Trump, who last month rescinded an Obama administration directive allowing transgender students to use the public school bathrooms of their choice.
"We had eight strong years of progress, and now we face a political climate that could roll back our rights," Pendleton says. "We're resisting homophobia, xenophobia, sexism and racism."
Pendleton says his idea for the annual parade, which often includes colorful costumes, partygoers and political statements, to become a march was inspired by the success of the national Women's March following Trump's inauguration. In Los Angeles the event drew an estimated 350,000, possibly more. He posted the concept for the Resist March on his Facebook page that month, and within weeks he was on the board of the group that organizes L.A. Pride, the Christopher Street West Association.
"Instead of being a parade with floats, it's going to be a march," the activist says. "That's really how L.A. Pride started in 1970."
L.A. Pride, the June 5-11 gathering with concerts, parties and a Sunday street festival in West Hollywood, will carry on, of course. It's just that this year some participants will be marching in.
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McDonald, who left the Weekly to write books, including Righteous Rebels: AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Crusade to Change the World, endorses the march wholeheartedly. "It's fantastic that L.A. Pride will be marching across Los Angeles, and not merely holding a parade in West Hollywood," he said via email. "These are serious times, and the LGBT community is taking part in a larger human struggle for equality, freedom and opportunity that involves all sorts of social and economic justice movements."
L.A. Pride has called West Hollywood home for decades, but the march is going back to its roots by starting at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 11. Marchers will head to WeHo from there. It's not yet clear how long the event will last. "We're working with city officials in both cities right now to ensure a safe protest march," Pendleton says.
The march could signal an expansion of L.A. Pride. Pendleton says he wants the march to be about LGBTQ+ rights but also about reproductive rights and immigrants' rights. "This year it's about human rights," he says.
The event is also for straight men and women "who care about reproductive rights, DREAMers, immigrants," Pendleton says. "We'll wrap that rainbow flag around them as well."