UPDATE: JUNE 8, 2020 – After taking the weekend to consider how to move forward, Christopher Street West has announced that the organization will be stepping back from organizing an event this month. A protest will take place June 14, but it will take a different form than initially announced, under the management of an advisory board of Black LGBTQ+ leaders. It will take a new name, as well. No longer carrying the L.A. Pride branding at all, the new event has been dubbed All Black Lives Matter.
In a statement released on Instagram, L.A. Pride organizers stated that the criticism levied against them in recent days has been eye-opening. “We recognize systemic racism, implicit bias, and privilege permeates this county, and this includes the history of our organization,” it reads. “We hope to see progress and start with change from within.”
Organizers state that permit applications filed with the city for the march have been withdrawn, and no invitation will be extended to law enforcement. The group has also committed that it will accept no corporate sponsorships for the event, addressing another concern that had simmered on social media since the initial announcement.
UPDATE: JUNE 5, 2020, 7:12 P.M. – Christopher Street West tonight released a lengthy statement addressing concerns raised about their planned event. In the statement, the group offers “sincerest apologies” for what they characterize as “missteps” in planning and announcing the march, as well as larger concerns about diversity and inclusivity.
“In this, we recognize the organization’s relationship with the marginalized groups within our own community has been problematic,” the statement reads. “We are committed to listening to the Black community more closely and to truly be a better ally and collaborator in the fight to end systemic racism and oppression.”
According to the post, the June 14 even is now being “reevaluated” with additional updates to come.
— LA Pride (@lapride) June 6, 2020
UPDATE, JUNE 5, 2020, 8:33 A.M. – Concerns have been raised about a plan announced by L.A. Pride this week to recast their annual event as a “solidarity march” in support of Black Lives Matter-led protests. Investigations into the plan appear to indicate that no contact was made by L.A. Pride organizing body Christopher Street West to Black Lives Matter representatives. Contact was, however, made to the Los Angeles Police Department, inviting a robust law enforcement presence at the event.
“While I’m sure this was organized with the best of intentions, myself, Black leadership within Los Angeles, nor the Black Lives Matter movement organized this march, nor were we contacted about it,” said Ashlee Marie Preston, an activist and local politician prominent in both Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ advocacy in Los Angeles, including previously serving on the board of L.A. Pride, in a video statement.
“It’s important for non-Black allies to understand,” she added, “that, while your intentions may be pure, using a Black organization’s name without it’s permission or consent to collaborate not only undermines the work, but it dilutes the message, and weakens the overall impact.”
In addition to the apparent lack of communication, others on social media seized on a letter sent by Christopher Street West to the Los Angeles Police Department that struck some as inappropriately inviting given the tone of police-protester interactions of recent days.
In an interview with NBC News, Preston noted that, even in previous years, even when she served on the event’s board of directors, L.A. Pride was entreated by some activists not to collaborate with police–and this year, the issue is all the more visible.
“At a time when police brutality is at the center, that guarantee hasn’t been made,” she said.
A statement released on Wednesday night signed by Gerald Garth of Christopher Street West and Brandon Anthony of entertainment group BASH LA appeared to acknowledge the brewing concerns.
“We hear the many voices coming from within the Black community and our support for the community is unwavering,” the statement reads. “Christopher Street West (CSW) is engaging Black community advocacy groups, Black LGBTQ+ organizations, and community leaders to align on our mission and objectives. We are committing to educating ourselves on how to be an ally in the fight against systemic social injustice and police brutality and to work for justice reform.”
The statement indicates that additional information about plans for the event will be released at some point today. A request for direct comment from Christopher Street West made by Los Angeles, but was not responded to by publication.
Preston offered a piece of advice for L.A. Pride leaders seeking education on being strong allies: “Black leadership knows exactly what it needs in order to thrive. So please don’t conflate saviourism with Black solidarity. Ask us what it is that we need and we will tell you.”
JUNE 3, 2020 – In March, L.A. Pride made the call to go online-only due to the looming threat of COVID-19. On Wednesday morning, Christopher Street West, the organizers of the official celebration in West Hollywood, made a surprise announcement: L.A. Pride was back on, in the form of a march against injustice, racism, and all forms of oppression.
The solidarity march will assemble at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue at 10 a.m. on June 14. Protesters will gather near the site where, 50 years ago, the first-ever permitted Pride parade in America began. Protesters will then make their way to San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Fifty years ago Christopher Street West took to the streets of Hollywood Blvd in order to peacefully protest against police brutality and oppression,” said Estevan Montemayor, President of CSW Board of Directors. “It is our moral imperative to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism and joining the fight for meaningful and long-lasting reform.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.