L.A. Pride: Celebrating 45 Years
Our LGBTQ community has come a long way since the Stonewall riots during the summer of 1969. 45 years later, same-sex marriage is legal in a rapidly growing number of states, gay and lesbian personnel can serve openly in the U.S. military and hate crimes against LGBTQ people are more aggressively prosecuted.
The fight for equality that began on New York's Christopher Street has been commemorated annually on the west coast as L.A. Pride, produced by Christopher Street West. This year's celebration will take place Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8 in the heart of West Hollywood. Several big-name performers, including an Academy Award-winning singer/actress, will take the stage alongside the usual array of dance tents, exhibitor booths, and art displays plus new attractions.
Over 50,000 attendees are expected at this year's event. Women will once again get the weekend-long party started the night of Friday, June 6. Formerly known as the Purple Party, L.A. Pride has rebranded the kickoff as Lavender Menace in honor of a group of radical lesbian activists who came together in the 1970s to fight discrimination. Singer Mary Lambert, well-known for her vocal contribution to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' hit song "Same Love," will perform in addition to Australian pop superstar Betty Who, who will be making her first Pride appearance anywhere. Lavender Menace is a free event, thanks to sponsor Showtime, for all ages and genders at West Hollywood Park from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Concurrent with Lavender Menace on the eve of Friday, June 6 will be the return of the Transgender Social, at which Trans people, family members, friends and allies come together. It takes place on the Latin Stage inside the Latino Carnival area of the festival. 20-year old Trans singer-songwriter Ryan Cassata will appear, as will Shane Ivan Nash, come- dian Dina Nina Martinez and the rock band Lunden Reign.
Speaking of the Latino Carnival, the event is returning to L.A. Pride courtesy of Club Papi. This high-energy, non-stop dance party celebrates LGBT festival goers of Latin heritage. Taking the stage on Sunday, June 8 will be award-winning R&B legend Deborah Cox and Mexican singing sensation Marisela. Marisela will be making her Pride debut as well. Club Papi's famously sexy dancers are going to be on hand and attendees will have the chance to win fabulous prizes at the Club Papi and Latinboyz carnival booths.
The main festival on Saturday and Sunday boasts returning staples such as: Erotic City, where adults can witness and even participate in a variety of demonstrations exploring sex and kink; the arts and culture exhibit RIOT 1, curated by a number of LGBT talents and featuring theatrical performances, a bar and lounge; "Sizzle: A Carnival of Attraction," where adult attendees can get back in touch with favorite childhood carnival games, exhibits, sights and even cotton candy; and additional dance pavilions dedicated to Country Western and Hip Hop/R&B.
Sure to be a big draw the evening of Saturday, June 7 on the festival's Main Stage is the terrific Jennifer Hudson. The 32-year old singer-actress famously lost on "American Idol" in 2004, only to be cast in the 2006 movie musical "Dreamgirls" and become a superstar with her scene-stealing performance as Effie. Hudson subsequently won almost every major critics' and guild awards, including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She has more recently released two bestselling albums, appeared in several major motion pictures and wrote an autobiography focusing on her dramatic weight loss since becoming spokesperson for Weight Watchers since 2010. Hudson performed at Long Beach Pride in 2007 and brought the house down.
Also scheduled to perform on Saturday are rapper Azealia Banks, Katja Glieson, Kingdoms, Jeremy Thurber, Charmaine and The Freaky Boiz. On Sunday, June 8, the 1980s all-girl band The Bangles and their contemporaries, Danity Kane, will headline the Main Stage.
With the purchase of a 2014 VIP pass, festival-goers will gain special access to a major new attraction: Thunderground. This full-size, outdoor roller-skating rink promises a one-of-a-kind Pride experience that will get you moving all weekend long! An all-weekend VIP pass is priced at $100.
400,000 spectators, marchers and participants turn out each year for the L.A. Pride Parade along Santa Monica Boulevard, which kicks off at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 8. Actress, singer and activist Demi Lovato has been selected to serve as Grand Marshal of this year's parade. Lovato is a devout Christian but has also been a supporter of LGBT rights. "Gay, straight, lesbian, bi... No one is better than anyone else," she tweeted in 2013. Lovato continued: "I believe in gay marriage, I believe in equality. I think there's a lot of hypocrisy with religion." In commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Lovato is being honored on both coasts and will headline New York's Pride celebration on June 29.
Other 2014 parade honorees beside Lovato are the Proposition 8 Supreme Court Plaintiffs as Community Grand Marshals. We all owe a tremendous
amount to Paul Katami, Jeff Zarrillo, Kris Perry, and Sandy Stier as well as attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies for their heroic challenge of California's discriminatory, voter-approved constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court's subsequent ruling striking down Prop. 8 last year has enabled the declaration of similar amendments in other states as unconstitutional.
According to Tom Pardoe, L.A. Pride's VP Chair of the parade: "The parade is based on celebrating the LGBT community and the people and organizations that have helped make progress in terms of equality. This year's Community Grand Marshals are the epitome of that idea and have proven themselves as valuable champions for the success of the LGBT fight for inclusion."
Admission to the concerts and all festival events are included in the ticket price.
For more information on all things L.A. Pride or to purchase event tickets, go to lapride.org