LA Pride 2020 to be a 50th anniversary TV special

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LA Pride 2020 will celebrate its 50th anniversary this month with a prime time television special.

Christopher Street West, the 501 (c) 3  non profit that produces the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival, announced in May that it had cancelled all in-person events for the remainder of 2020. That decision was inevitable because the City of West Hollywood had cancelled all large gatherings in the city for 2020 in an effort to slow the transmission rate of COVID-19.

Virtual celebration

The LA Pride Festival and Parade had been scheduled to take place at West Hollywood Park and along San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards on June 13 and 14.

“LA Pride 50th Anniversary Celebration” will air June 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC7.

LA Pride Parade 2019

People lined Santa Monica Boulevard on June 10, 2018, and cheered the participants in the LA Pride Parade. Photo: Jon Viscott/City of West Hollywood

Troy Perry

The Rev. Troy Perry and Project Angel Food will be the grand marshals for the celebration, Christopher Street West said in a statement.

Perry co-founded Christopher Street West and LA Pride in 1970, but his LGBTQ activism started more than 50 years ago. On Oct. 6, 1968, Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Church, the world’s first LGBTQ church. Their first worship service, with 12 people attending, took place at Perry’s Huntington Park home.

Perry started the church after he witnessed a friend falsely arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department during an August 1968 raid at Lee Gaze’s The Patch gay bar in Wilmington. Later, the friend told Perry that he thought the arrest was God’s punishment for him being gay.

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Los Angeles queer history

The TV celebration will take place as a virtual festival that pays tribute to the history of LA Pride and celebrates the Los Angeles area’s storied role in the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

For example, in 1950, Rudi Gernreich, and his then boyfriend, Harry Hay, were founding members of The Mattachine Society. The Silver Lake-based collective was one of the earliest groups in the United States fighting for gay rights for men.

In 1967, more than two years before the Stonewall Riots, the Black Cat bar in Silver Lake on Sunset Boulevard was the site of one of the nation’s first organized LGBTQ demonstrations. Activists were protesting Los Angeles police harassment and violence at the neighborhood gay bar.

LA Pride TV special

Through historical vignettes and in-depth interviews, the LA Pride TV special will spotlight the local unsung heroes, community activists, and the queer community’s vital part in the culture and history of the City of Angels.

The celebration will include special performances and appearances by Alex Newell, Amara La Negra, Asher Entertainment ft. The House of Ninja, Bob the Drag Queen, Carson Kressley, Erika Jayne, Greyson Chance, Hayley Kiyoko, Jake Borelli, Jordy, Justin Tranter, Lance Bass, Lee Daniels, Leslie Jordan, Megan Hilty & Brian Gallagher, MJ Rodriguez, Neve Campbell, Sandra Bernhard, Shea Diamond, The Pussycat Dolls, Trixie Mattel’s performance presented by Virgin Fest at Rocco’s, the cast of the upcoming Hulu series, “Love Victor.”

iHeartRadio Los Angeles

Christopher Street West also formed a partnership with iHeartMedia Los Angeles. iHeartMedia will commemorate “50 Years of Pride in LA” across its five local stations: Real 92.3, 104.3 MYFM, KOST 103.5, 102.7 KIIS-FM, and ALT 98.7.

The partnership will feature three aspects:

  • Each station will feature daily vignettes focused on the history of the LGBTQ movement and LA Pride celebrations.
  • Every Friday in June, the stations will host weekly virtual Pride parties streamed live on the station’s YouTube channels and on Pride Radio featured on the iHeartRadio app.
  • iHeartRadio Los Angeles and Christopher Street West will launch the “LA Pridecast” podcast. Hosted by 104.3 MYFM’s Lisa Foxx, the monthly podcast, which starts this month, will feature conversations about issues and topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ students.

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