Cel­e­bra­tion of pride re­turns to its roots

#Re­sistMarch re­places pa­rade, draw­ing thou­sands

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Hai­ley Bran­son-Potts, Meg Bern­hard and Anh Do

Dan Ortega hadn’t been to an LA Pride pa­rade in at least a decade.

The 54-year-old real es­tate agent from Sil­ver Lake, who is gay, had grown com­pla­cent with the LGBTQ move­ment — es­pe­cially, he said, af­ter the Supreme Court le­gal­ized same­sex mar­riage na­tion­wide two years ago and it seemed as though so many hard-fought vic­to­ries had al­ready been won. But things are dif­fer­ent now that Don­ald Trump is pres­i­dent, Ortega said.

As he did when he marched dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion to raise aware­ness about AIDS, Ortega felt com­pelled to speak out. So, on Sun­day, he dusted off the cape he wore to pre­vi­ous Pride events and joined tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in a hu­man rights march that re­placed the iconic pa­rade.

“I can’t just let the young peo­ple do it,” Ortega said, march­ing with his long­time part­ner. “I’m here in my lit­tle pink cape, in my own way.”

This year, LA Pride went from party to protest. Gone were the col­or­ful floats and the boozy crowds watch­ing from the side­walks of Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard. In­stead, marchers flooded the streets of Hol­ly­wood and West Hol­ly­wood, the crowd stretch­ing for sev­eral blocks for what can best be de­scribed as a sym­bol of the Trump era — a protest march with a hash­tag in its name: the #Re­sistMarch.

“This year, the LGBTQ com­mu­nity is lend­ing our iconic rain­bow flag to any­one who feels like their rights are

un­der threat and to any­one who feels like Amer­ica’s strength is its di­ver­sity,” said Brian Pendle­ton, who or­ga­nized the march, which he said was in­spired by the mas­sive women’s marches that took place the day af­ter Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion.

In­deed, #Re­sistMarch par­tic­i­pants held up hand­made signs that spoke of many is­sues in ad­di­tion to LGBTQ rights: health­care, cli­mate change, im­mi­gra­tion. Many wore the pink knit “pussy hats” that be­came sym­bolic of the women’s marches, and mem­bers of the crowd chanted “black lives mat­ter!” as they walked.

Like the first LA Pride pa­rade in 1970 — which was so con­tro­ver­sial at the time that the city’s Po­lice Com­mis­sion tried to stop it, cit­ing a po­ten­tial for vi­o­lence against par­tic­i­pants — Sun­day’s march kicked off near Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard and High­land Av­enue in Los An­ge­les. For many years, the pa­rade took place en­tirely in the city of West Hol­ly­wood.

Nina Firooz, 31, of Granada Hills said she was moved by the march start­ing in the same lo­ca­tion and tak­ing on a more po­lit­i­cal tone.

“This is what Pride was orig­i­nally about,” said Firooz, who is a les­bian. “We’re get­ting back to our roots.”

Firooz was at­tend­ing the march with mem­bers of her North Hol­ly­wood church and wore a T-shirt that read “Je­sus re­sisted.” She’s been frus­trated by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rhetoric and wor­ries about the rights of LGBTQ peo­ple and others be­ing scaled back. It’s been an emo­tional six months for her, she said. Her par­ents are orig­i­nally from Iran, and she has wor­ried about them, too, as Trump called for a travel ban that in­cluded their home coun­try.

“I am a queer Ira­nian woman in the Trump era,” Firooz said. “He re­ally doesn’t like me. It’s not a par­ti­san is­sue for me. It’s how Trump treats peo­ple.”

As peo­ple gath­ered for the march, a young boy sat near Mickey Mouse’s star on the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame clutch­ing a sign that read, “Love trumps hate.” Not far away was Trump’s star, cov­ered in stick­ers that read, “I re­sist ho­mo­pho­bia” and “Drive out Trump/Pence fas­cist regime.” Up the street, ac­tivists danced be­side a gi­ant pink, blue and white trans­gen­der flag that stretched across Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard.

There were cheeky signs and shirts ga­lore. “Sashay Away Covfefe,” read one, pok­ing fun at the pres­i­dent’s in­fa­mous tweet typo along­side a photo of Trump wear­ing a pink drag queen wig.

Ed­ward Gould, 48, and his boyfriend, Bradley Land, 52, both from Pasadena, wore red shirts em­bla­zoned with the phrase “Make Amer­ica gay again,” a riff on Trump’s cam­paign slo­gan.

Miguel Lue­vano, 42, of Pasadena held up a large Trump piñata with red devil horns. Peo­ple kept walk­ing by, want­ing to hit or spank it, Lue­vano said, chuck­ling.

“I put horns on him be­cause I see him as the devil,” said Lue­vano, who works in law en­force­ment. “He’s against women one week, then he’s against Lati­nos and against gays.”

The #Re­sistMarch came a year af­ter Christo­pher Street West, the non­profit that or­ga­nizes LA Pride, tried, con­tro­ver­sially, to re­brand it as a mu­sic fes­ti­val to woo mil­len­ni­als. Protesters who or­ga­nized un­der the moniker #NotOurPride de­rided the event as a com­mer­cial­ized “gay Coachella.”

Joey Valadez, 34, has par­tic­i­pated in pre­vi­ous Prides but said pa­rades “can be over­rated” if they seem to show the gay com­mu­nity just “to be about par­ty­ing.”

“Ear­lier, you might have seen half-naked peo­ple run­ning around. To­day, you see peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing a po­lit­i­cal will,” he said.

James Lewis Per­due Jack­son II marched in the first LA Pride pa­rade, which was or­ga­nized to com­mem­o­rate the one-year an­niver­sary of the up­ris­ing at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Back then, Jack­son said, par­tic­i­pants were “more an­ar­chist” and “more de­struc­tive.”

They had to be, he said. The LGBTQ com­mu­nity had ex­pe­ri­enced po­lice bru­tal­ity, and just pub­licly be­ing out as a gay per­son was risky.

“We’ve been in this fight a long time,” Jack­son, 71, said.

In a sign of changed times, Sam Bur­dick-Mor­ris marched Sun­day with his mother. The 13-year-old came out as gay a few months ago and wore a rain­bow flag around his neck and a shirt read­ing “Proud to be gay” in pink let­ters. He said he felt “re­ally, re­ally happy.”

“There is such a big com­mu­nity and unity here,” he said.

Last year’s pa­rade took place hours af­ter 49 peo­ple were killed in a mass shoot­ing at Pulse, a gay night­club in Or­lando, Fla. Be­fore the event, Santa Mon­ica po­lice ar­rested an In­di­ana man with a car­load of weapons and ex­plo­sive ma­te­ri­als who told of­fi­cers he was go­ing to Pride, trig­ger­ing a panic.

On Sun­day, Kas­san­dra La Giusa-Riede­man marched with one of 49 gi­ant pur­ple bal­loons hon­or­ing the Pulse vic­tims. The 21year-old Cal State Chan­nel Is­lands stu­dent de­scribed her­self as a straight ally and said her boyfriend had been con­cerned about her safety af­ter what hap­pened last year.

But she wouldn’t have missed it. She marched with her mother, Jacki Riede­man, a mar­ried les­bian who has been bring­ing her to Pride pa­rades since she was an in­fant.

Car­ry­ing the bal­loon, La Giusa-Riede­man said that the Or­lando vic­tims were on her mind and that she could “feel the weight of the loss.”

Her mother said she, too, had Or­lando on her mind.

“It re­minds us that we have so far to go — still,” Riede­man said.

As the march pro­ceeded into West Hol­ly­wood on Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard, marchers passed Rus­sian bak­eries and phar­ma­cies with Cyril­lic writ­ing, a sign of the city’s large Rus­sian pop­u­la­tion. In the crowd, signs with Trump’s face read: “Mak­ing Rus­sia great again.”

At the end of the march, a ver­i­ta­ble pa­rade of speak­ers ad­dressed the crowd, the at­mos­phere akin to that of a po­lit­i­cal rally.

“For years, we have gath­ered in these streets to cel­e­brate our pride, and this year we are as proud as ever, but we are also mad as hell,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Bur­bank), the rank­ing Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Rep. Max­ine Wa­ters (DLos An­ge­les), known for her acer­bic com­ments about Trump, said of him: “He’s not my pres­i­dent. He’s not your pres­i­dent. He lies. He cheats. He’s a bully. He dis­re­spects us all. And if he thinks he can mess with the LGBT com­mu­nity, he’d bet­ter look at what hap­pened right here in West Hol­ly­wood.”

The crowd, many still clutch­ing rain­bow flags, joined her in a chant of “Im­peach 45!” be­fore she told them to “stay woke.”

Ge­naro Molina Los An­ge­les Times

MARCHERS jam Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard for LA Pride. Like the first LA Pride pa­rade in 1970, Sun­day’s march kicked off near the in­ter­sec­tion of Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard and High­land Av­enue in Los An­ge­les.

Ge­naro Molina Los An­ge­les Times

PEO­PLE walk on Sun­set Boule­vard dur­ing the #Re­sistMarch. Speak­ers in­cluded House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Max­ine Wa­ters.

Chris­tian K. Lee Los An­ge­les Times

KRISTEN WRIGHT, 36, waves a gay pride f lag as Ash­ley Boyd, 30, ma­neu­vers her mo­tor­cy­cle through the throngs. Brian Pendle­ton, who or­ga­nized the #Re­sistMarch, said he was in­spired by the mas­sive women’s marches that took place af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion.

Chris­tian K. Lee Los An­ge­les Times

BRENDEN BANFIELD, 50, left, and Charles Banfield, 48, em­brace. Gone were the col­or­ful f loats and boozy crowds of years past, re­placed by po­lit­i­cal protest.

Ge­naro Molina Los An­ge­les Times

MARCH par­tic­i­pant Sa­van­nah Lind­sey, 19, wears a sticker that reads “#I re­sist ho­mo­pho­bia.”

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