By Alex Banx
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 06/08/2023 – Women and the LGBT took a sigh of joy with the news that Pat Robertson is no longer around to spread hate. Let the celebrations continue! HAPPY PRIDE MONTH, everyone!
Motivation to show up to Pride events can go in waves for LGBTQ+ aficionados and self-identified introverts; rainbow capitalism and the abundance of toxic masculinity ranking at the top of the list of demotivators. Without getting too into the details and politics behind the best break-up in West Hollywood history—LA Pride and WeHo Pride officially splitting into two separate Pride committees last year, 2022—we need to acknowledge what happened it 2021: The protest of LA Pride (in West Hollywood).
People were out, bars were still open, but there was not commercial Pride festival hosted by the city, no corporate sponsors. Pride was not cancelled. The LA Pride “the music festival” was cancelled. No one can cancel Pride. Pride is free!
The first LGBTQ+ Pride celebration was celebrated on June 28, 1970, commemorating the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, led by Stormé DeLarvierie, Marsha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera. As of 1995, June became LGBTQ+ Pride month, a resolution passed by the General Assembly. LGBTQ+ Pride lives within those who have it and acknowledge it, 365 days a year, hopefully. But, in 2021 LA Pride’s Christopher Street West Pride celebration in West Hollywood Park, which began in 1970 and continued in West Hollywood 5 years before West Hollywood became West Hollywood, came to an end, in West Hollywood.
Instead, the public took the streets.
Reclaiming Pride for those who have been pushed out, into the alleys and in the shadows.
People banned together with speakers and mics. Queer and Trans BIPOC rage and joy bounced down Santa Monica Monica Blvd.
Chella Coleman is frontwoman for one of the bands that blocked off the street entrance at Santa Monica and San Vicente between Rocco’s and the corner of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.
As the band played on, the Sheriff’s stayed back watching from the rooftop of their building.
Young, and not so young, joined in rebellion. Mom Hugs were out supporting. It was a protest and a celebration! And it was a success!
The next year, 2021, news broke that WeHo Pride and LA Pride were splitting up!
And a confusing split up it was. It was a little too much, too soon for most to process, but for those who took the time to look into what was happening, and showed up, they likely had a great a time.
Like this year, last year’s LA Pride’s festival was expensive, and most people probably won’t go. WeHo Pride on the other hand, recruited OUTLOUD, the L Project’s Women’s Freedom Festival, and Compton Pride to help diversify WeHo Pride, and it worked!
This year, 2023, WeHo Pride brought back OUTLOUD plus SummerTramp (free Friday, paid Saturday and Sunday), the L Project’s Women’s Freedom Festival & Dyke March (free), and Compton Pride (free)! That’s 2 free live stages and all the vendor booths were outside of the paid festival area. All the food trucks were inside, but none of them were appealing, especially not at $30 for mystery protein sandwiches. Countless restaurants and grocery stores line Santa Monica Blvd, so getting fed was not an issue.
Several reviewers from The Hollywood Times were in attendance all 3 nights, but we unfortunately could not witness all the performances on the main stage, however, there were a handful of epics moments that must be celebrated.
Jessie Ware passionately kept the spirit of disco alive at WeHo Pride Friday night, and for free!
Santigold brought the crowd on stage getting us hyped and ready for the one and only amazing Grace Jones!
Have you seen the videos? Grace Jones crowd-surfing like the Goddess of Ferocity that she is?
And then came Sunday; Kat Cunning (they/them) opened the OUTLOUD stage way too early. Who made that decision? Kat’s entire set nailed it and deserved an audience that wasn’t still at home recovering from the night before. Kat Cunning’s “Boys” was especially relevant to what Pride is about.
An excerpt from Kat Cunning’s Boys”, dedicated to non-binary/trans-masc individuals:
Tell your mom you’re leaving
Tell your father
You’re gonna come away with me
You beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy
Throw away your dresses
Throw away the end of your first name
Give me your confession
Burn the bible
So you can make a little space
For beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boys
Sadly, all was not fun and Pride at this year’s WeHo Pride Festival. The toxic masculinity this year, surprisingly, did not come from Pride’s masc4masc patrons who were preoccupied thanks to the SummerTramp stage. Instead, WeHo Pride 2023 recruited an abundance of cis “straight-acting” men to take on the role of authority figures.
If you’re reading this, you’re hopefully aware by now that Xodiak Rose and another woman were violently arrested by 10 West Hollywood Sheriff’s Saturday because they spoke up to an officer making homophobic remarks. Fake charges were brought against them, bail was made, and the Sheriff’s still refused to let them go.
Around that same time, local drag performer Ivanka Puki, was being harassed a male Security Guard making exaggerated accusation. Soon after, 2 Sherriff’s Officer’s arrived and agreed Ivanka was not causing any trouble, the “straight-acting” male Security Guard insisted Ivanka be escorted out of the festival. The Sheriff’s complied.
West Hollywood Mayor, Sepi Shyne, had 2 male bodyguards uncomfortably side-eyeing the parade as they tried to hide their curiosities.
If whoever hired these men is reading this, reach out to The Hollywood Times if you’d like some big strong butch women not afraid of muscley men in Andrew Christian short shorts to takeover, to protect your city’s Mayor.
For the safety of the community, demands may need to go beyond “No Cops at Pride”, fragile masculinity was given too much authority and the power to arrest at this year’s WeHo Pride.
They’ve got a year to figure it out. Good luck West Hollywood & Happy Pride!