Gay Pride Parade This Sunday
By ROSANNA MAH
The Independent Staff Writer
Anything is possible at the L.A. Pride Celebration: Rainbow flags, pounding music, shirtless dancing, leather whips, political discourse and even love.
It is that sense of diversity and limitless possibilities that draws hundreds and thousands of gay and straight people from all over the country to participate in the Christopher Street West’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride Festival and Parade taking place this weekend in West Hollywood.
“We chose ‘Hello … Pride’ [as the theme] because we felt it conveys a sense of celebration and hope,” said Rodney Scott, chair of Christopher Street West, the organizer of the annual LGBT Pride celebration. “I think it’s a great opportunity to let people know that we are here.”
Councilman Jeffrey Prang fondly remembers the previous year’s celebrations where he first met his partner, Raymundo Vizcarra, with whom he exchanged commitment vows in a public ceremony this April.
“You’ll have people from all walks of life,” said Prang, “clearly anything is possible.”
More than 300,000 revelers are expected to line Santa Monica Boulevard, says Scott, to witness over 120 flamboyant parade floats, women bikers, and dozens of same-sex couples who will be traveling on what is called a “freedom train.”
Prominent law enforcement and city officials expected to take part in the parade include LAPD Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and West Hollywood Mayor John Duran.
For this year’s parade, Scott says that that same-sex marriage will be the main topic of conversation.
“After 35 years of us gaining our rights, we are still talking about our basic civil rights of getting married … people are going to talk about this [because] we deserve those rights,” he said.
The three-hour long parade was a tradition started 34 years ago by legendary Los Angeles gay rights activist Morris Knight to advocate LGBT pride and to provide a much-needed venue for gay and lesbian issues.
As one of the largest gay pride celebrations in the nation, the 34th annual three-day weekend festival will not only feature Grand Marshall Jennifer Tilly, but include performances by singer Pepper LaShay, Cheryl Lynn, The Emotions, The Motels and American Idol finalists Kimberly Locke and Tamyra Gray, among others.
Festival attractions include Erotic City, an exhibit celebrating leather lifestyle that is restricted to people ages 18 and older and a couple’s commitment ceremony. Other areas will be dedicated to R & B, Country and Latin music.
Among the people honored this year are reporter Karen Ocamb, author Bruce Vilanch, Jean O’Leary, political consultant and lesbian rights activist, Dr. Reverend Michael Beckwith founder and senior minister of the Agape International Spiritual Center, Barry Greenfield, West Hollywood public safety commissioner, actress Khandi Alexander, Jorge Valencia, president of nonprofit The Trevor Project, businessman Michael John Horne, Abbey owner David Cooley and folk singer Phranc.
The parade starts promptly at 11 a.m. on Sunday, from the intersection of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards and ending at Robertson Boulevard.