Images courtesy of L.A. Pride
Since 1979, the nonprofit LGBT organization Christopher Street West has produced L.A. Pride in West Hollywood to celebrate the anniversary of New York’s historical Stonewall Riots. Some have argued that hosting Pride in WeHo prevents its cultural significance from extending outside of Boystown. After all, Pride was originally held in Hollywood, its parade taking place on a warm 1970 day along Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Vine. Pressure from a homophobic LAPD eventually forced the event to move to the unincorporated area that would later become West Hollywood. But lets be honest—if L.A. is going to throw a weekend-long gay party, don’t you want it handled by the same overachievers who founded and maintained a city with our best interests at its core? CSW promises that L.A. Pride 2014 will be the city’s most promising celebration ever.
In a town perpetually encased within the bubble of its car culture, any excuse to mingle publicly in a large crowd is a welcome change of pace. And boy, the does the L.A. Pride Parade attract one hell of a crowd, composed of gays, lesbians, transfolk, bisexuals and our straight allies from across SoCal. With an estimated 400,000 people expected to participate as spectators pavment stompers this year, the size of this event rivals West Hollywood’s other epic public spectacle, the annual Halloween Carnaval.
Participants of last year’s parade will already be familiar with the route, which spans the length of Santa Monica Boulevard from Fairfax all the way down to Doheny. Grand marshal duties for this year’s parade will be performed by pop artist and staunch LGBT supporter Demi Lovato, also notable for her turn as a lesbian love interest for Naya Rivera’s feisty Latina character of the unabashedly queer-friendly musical comedy Glee.
While hundreds of thousands stomp the pavement at Sunday’s parade, the Christopher Street West Pride Festival will be emceed by WeHo’s Queen B himself, Billy Francesca—with a little assist from his co-host DJ Asha, on both Saturday and Sunday. The ladies get the ball rolling on Friday with the Lavender Menace, a celebration of women and the women they love. Grab your favorite gal and stand-spoon to live performances by Mary Lambert, Betty Who and more. And don’t forget our trans siblings—people like Dina Nina Martinez, Ryan Cassata, Lunden Reign and Shane Ivan Nash—who will be participating in Transgender Social Performances on the Latino Carnival Stage.
Lunden returns on Saturday, this time stepping onto the main stage with Katja Gliesen, Charmaine, The Freaky Boiz and others. This diverse lineup of pro-LGBT performers leads up to the night’s headliners, Azealia Banks and everyone’s favorite Dreamgirl (sorry, Beyoncé)—Jennifer Hudson.
If you missed Ryan Cassata’s set during Lavender Menace, catch him along with Kristina Debarge, Derek Jameson, Glass Battles and Teammate on the main stage. Or, if you’re craving something a bit more caliente, saunter over to the Latino Carnival Stage to scope out Marisela. The night climaxes with performances by Danity Kane and ‘80s pop-rock icons The Bangles.
If all this sounds too Top 40 for you, don’t sweat it; there are a multitude of musical options. For all you good ol’ country boys, the Country Pavilion has returned, so you can honky-tonk your achy-breaky heart out with your favorite ranch hand. For those swinging on the opposite end of the cultural pendulum, the Hip-Hop/R&B stage is back.
The Pride festival isn’t just about music, of course. If you want something visual that’s not too abysmal, you can hit up this year’s art and culture exhibit, Riot I, curated by Install: Pride.
And what Pride festival would be complete without the adults-only zone? Erotic City has returned, and it’s hotter than ever. Gaze your peepers on erotic art and take a chance on live drawings from the Tom of Finland Foundation. If you need more of an eyeful, ONE Archives will be co-hosting the Project 50 photography exhibit, chronicling the LGBT communities’ shared history over the last five decades. And, as one might expect from an 18-and-older erotica area, there will be plenty of vendors selling toys for big boys and girls. This portion of the festival is a must-visit for all bondage boys, kinksters and sexual adventurers.
If you’re none of those things and crave something more wholesome to cleanse the palate, the festival has that covered as well. This year’s brand-spanking-new sober space, #Sizzle!, is a “Carnival of Attraction” that doles out nostalgic under-the-big-top fun. Indulge your inner child with carnival games and circus attractions. Scarf down cotton candy, fling yourself against the Velcro wall or test your strength with an oversized mallet. Much like the LGBT community, L.A. Pride offers something for everyone.
Cityline is West Hollywood’s free daytime shuttle service, while The PickUp is WeHo’s free nighttime trolley ride. In celebration of Pride this year, the shuttle and trolley services will get together and become “Pride Ride” for the weekend of June 6-8. Pride Ride will run on Friday, June 6, from 1-6 p.m. and from 8 p.m.-3 a.m.; on Saturday, June 7, from 11 a.m.-3 a.m.; and on Sunday, June 8, from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Pride Ride will feature Cityline vehicles before 8 p.m. and PickUp trolleys after 8 p.m. It will follow a continuous loop along Santa Monica Boulevard between Robertson and Fuller, with 16 stops in each direction. Vehicles will arrive approximately every 15 minutes with music provided by local DJ Derek Monteiro. For drivers who wish to “Park and Pride Ride” there will be paid public parking available for $20 in municipal lots such as the Hancock Parking Structure at 901 Hancock Avenue, and the Kings Road Municipal Parking Structure, located at 8383 Santa Monica Boulevard, which are both on the Pride Ride route.
STREET CLOSURES AND PARKING
The following streets will be closed due to L.A. Pride: (1) San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica and Melrose, from 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 5, through 10 a.m. on Monday, June 9; (2) Santa Monica Boulevard from Fairfax to Doheny, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 8; (3) Streets one block north and south of Santa Monica Boulevard (Fairfax to La Peer), from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 8; (4) Crescent Heights Boulevard from Romaine to Fountain will be closed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 8.
The City of West Hollywood will suspend enforcement of permit parking for Pride Weekend from 4 p.m. on Friday, June 6, to 7 a.m. on Monday, June 9. All metered parking will be enforced on Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7. Metered parking will not be enforced on Sunday, June 8, during the day of the Pride Parade. Attendees of festivities are encouraged to observe the boundaries of the City of West Hollywood; if you park in the City of Los Angeles and/or the City of Beverly Hills, all parking restrictions must be observed.