Eyes on the Pride

How two L.A. reverends became the ambassadors for gay rights

Forty-three years ago on June 28th, three activists begat a cultural juggernaut on Hollywood Boulevard: the world’s first street-closing gay pride parade. In 1970, Morris Kight and Reverends Bob Humphries and Troy Perry founded the gay rights organization, Christopher Street West, to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York. When Humphries and Kight suggested an inaugural demonstration, Perry, in his kindly southern drawl, proposed something with a little more panache. “I said this is Hollywood; we are going to have a parade.”

Perry, who also founded the Metropolitan Community Church, the first major Christian congregation to welcome openly gay members among its followers and ranks, is the last surviving forefather of LA PRIDE 1970. Since that first celebration, the 73-year-old has evolved from a protestor receiving death threats to an international ambassador of civil rights

In 1979, LA Pride relocated to West Hollywood, with a walk down Santa Monica second to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl parade in scope. However, the festival on Santa Monica Boulevard, which occurred June 7-9, holds inimitable significance this year. While the Supreme Court hearings for Prop 8 and DOMA loom in the cultural foreground, LA PRIDE 2013 has the potential to surpass an annual celebration and instead become a victory march. Reverend Perry likes the odds: “Even if the Supreme Court does not rule in our favor, we have already won.”