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LA Pride makes history with Black transgender woman president

Sharon-Franklin Brown LA Pride

Sharon-Franklin Brown was elected president of Christopher Street West Tuesday evening. The group produces the LA Pride Parade and Festival. Brown is the first Black transgender woman in the group’s history. Photo: Christopher Street West.

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LA Pride has elected its first Black transgender woman as board president.

Sharon-Franklin Brown was elected Tuesday evening after the resignation of Estevan Montemayor, who had served as board president since May 2018.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Christopher Street West, the 501(c)3 non-profit that  produces the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival.

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Brown, who has been a board member since 2019, will serve the remainder of Montemayor’s term, which will expire October 2021.

 “It’s never been a more important moment for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to continue fighting for all of us,” Brown said in a statement. “As a robust community across Los Angeles, we value inclusiveness and diversity. I’m so humbled to have been appointed by the board to this position as the first Black trans woman to lead (Christopher Street West)/Los Angeles Pride and our community efforts forward, beyond the pandemic and election, and into the future.”

Brown is the chief human resources officer at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where she is responsible for managing 800 employees across organizational development, strategic planning, recruitment and hiring, administration, and organized labor relations.

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LA Pride Parade history includes hatred from LAPD

Montemayor had planned to leave Christopher Street West after the 50th anniversary celebration to focus on the 2020 election, Noah Gonzales, a Christopher Street West spokesperson said.

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This year has been a troubled one for LA Pride. In June, the group was criticized for a bungled attempt at organizing a solidarity march with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In July, the City of West Hollywood took the first steps to having a Pride celebration without LA Pride. The organization had told the city that it “intended” to find another location for its 2021 event.

In the same statement, Montemayor said Brown “is an exceptional leader and I could not be more proud to pass the baton to her. I have no doubt she will lead with inclusiveness and passion for our entire LGBTQ+ community.”

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Madonna Cacciatore, Christopher Street West’s executive director, said she has worked with Brown more than eight years. The two women have known each other at Christopher Street West and the LA LGBT Center, where Cacciatore previously worked.

“I have known and worked with Sharon for more than eight years of my career at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Christopher Street West,” said CSW executive director Madonna Cacciatore. “She has never failed to inspire me and those around her through her intentional leadership, unwavering dedication, and her openness and honesty. She is the right person to walk our community into the next chapter of our history.”

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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 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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