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LA Pride 2016
Photograph: Wain Tan

LA Pride is leaving West Hollywood—but WeHo could still stage its own Pride

Organizer Christopher Street West says it won’t stage LA Pride in WeHo in 2021.

By
Michael Juliano
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It’s been a bumpy ride this year for LA Pride, the annual LGBTQ+ parade and festival in West Hollywood, between its in-person cancellation and community pushback over its handling of a solidarity march. And it seems like there’s still more to add to the saga.

Numerous local outlets report that LA Pride producer and non-profit Christopher Street West has sent a letter to the West Hollywood city council announcing its intention to move the LA Pride Parade and Festival out of West Hollywood in 2021.

In the letter, which Los Angeles Blade has reproduced in full, CSW cites construction at West Hollywood Park and changing demographics in L.A. for the move, as well as their “commitment to being responsive to the LGBTQIA+ community’s needs and our allyship and collaboration with other movements for social change.”

CSW has yet to announce where it plans on moving the parade and festival. The very first Pride parade took place in Hollywood in 1970, but LA Pride as we know it has been staged in West Hollywood since 1979.

It’s important to note here that LA Pride, as in the branded CSW-produced parade and festival, will leave West Hollywood, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the city will abandon its own Pride events. For its next council meeting on Monday, July 20, the City of West Hollywood will discuss whether it wishes to stage future LGBTQ+ Pride events either as an event solely run by the city or as a co-production with another company.

For city-run events like the Halloween Carnaval, WeHo hires a production company for technical assistance, but the city remains the lead organizer—and therefore makes all of the decisions, covers the full cost and recoups sponsorship dollars. For co-sponsorships like LA Pride, CSW has its own budget and makes all of the creative decisions while WeHo contributes money toward—but doesn’t receive sponsorship money from—the event (to frame that in dollars: the city spent $2 million on LA Pride in 2019, which was quadruple what it spent in 2015; according to research cited by Los Angeles Blade, the 2019 event generated $896,100 in tax revenue for WeHo and millions of dollars more in increased economic output). No matter which scenario the city pursues, any 2021 programming would likely be scaled down as construction at West Hollywood Park isn’t set to wrap up until next September.

As for CSW, the news comes at a rather contentious time. After initially canceling the in-person parade this year and pivoting to a virtual event, CSW decided to stage a solidarity march in the wake of citywide anti-racism protests. But CSW received pushback for not consulting with Black community leaders and for working with the LAPD, which caused the protest to change hands. That followed controversy in 2016, when members of the LGBTQ+ community criticized the increasingly higher-priced festival for pursuing a millennial, Coachella-like crowd to the detriment of the celebration’s inclusiveness.

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