LA Pride 2017: Alexei Romanoff, original Black Cat protester, named grand marshal

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Alexei Romanoff – one of the original demonstrators who participated in the historic Black Cat protest against police brutality in 1967 – has been named LA Pride’s grand marshal.

LONG-TIME GAY ACTIVIST

Romanoff, 81, of Pasadena, has been an LGBTQ activist more than 50 years and marched in every Pride Parade since the event was founded in 1970. This year, he also will participate in various parts of the Pride Festival and the Resist March.

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“I have spent a majority of my life fighting for equality and standing up for the unalienable rights of the LGBTQ community,” Romanoff said in a statement. “I have marched alongside the community in solidarity ever since the first LA Pride Parade 47 years ago, and will do so as long as I live.”

The LA Pride Festival will take place noon to 1 a.m. on June 10 and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on June 11 on San Vicente Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Tickets range from $15 to $35.

Romanoff also is featured in this year’s LA Pride video campaign, “Own Your Pride,” that spotlights a several local LGBTQ activists.

EASY CHOICE

Chris Classen, board president with Christopher Street West, the nonprofit group that runs LA Pride, said, “Our choice for the 2017 LA Pride Grand Marshal was easy.

“Alexei is a renowned activist, a champion of human rights, a long-time LA Pride supporter, and our friend,” Classen said. “He represents the very best of what our community stands for as well as what it can be.”

RELATED: Before Stonewall, Silver Lake’s Black Cat had protest against police brutality

Born in the Ukraine, Romanoff immigrated to the United States during War World II and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1958 where he became an active member of the city’s activist and leather communities.

As Romanoff’s level of community engagement increased, so did his arrest record for civil disobedience in organizing protests against police harassment and raids, the statement said.

EARLY ACTIVISM, BLACK CAT PROTEST

Also, Romanoff has founded several LGBTQ organizations, including the Santa Monica Bay Coalition for Human Rights and the Avatar Club of Los Angeles, the statement said.

At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Romanoff  fought for the AIDS research funding and assistance programs as well for the rights of AIDS patients.

Earlier this year, Romanoff took part in the 50th anniversary of the protest at the Black Cat Tavern, which predated the Stonewall riots by two years. This landmark demonstration — along with numerous others in Los Angeles, San Francisco and across the country in the mid-1960s — helped launch the gay civil rights movement.

Alexei Romanoff – one of the original demonstrators who participated in the historic Black Cat protest against police brutality in 1967 – has been named LA Pride’s grand marshal. Photo: Q Voice News staff.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.