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The Origins of Pride in LA

The month of June is celebrated across the world as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. What is less well-known is the city’s significant contribution to the gay rights movement including the world’s first Pride parade.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library Special Collections

The city has a rich history in the gay rights movement including the earliest known lesbian publication (Vice Versa, 1947), first official gay rights organization (the Mattachine Society, 1950), first homosexual magazine (ONE Magazine, 1953), first gay motorcycle club (the Satyrs MC, 1954) and first Supreme Court decision in favor of gay rights (One Inc. v. Olesen, 1958). This history also had its dark moments such as the brutal police raid on the popular gay bar, Blackcat Tavern, in 1969.

Photo courtesy of City of West Hollywood Arts

In 1970, community leaders Reverend Bob Humphries, Morris Kight and Reverend Troy Perry came together to plan a commemoration of the Stonewall Rebellion that had taken place the year before in New York. Their idea of a Pride Parade down Hollywood Boulevard was met with resistance from the Los Angeles Police Commission, who eventually granted a permit for prohibitive fees totaling over $1.5 million. With assistance from the ACLU and several community organizations, the fees were dropped and the world’s first parade took place through the streets of Hollywood. The parade featured a float from The Advocate magazine, a conservative gay group dressed in suits and thousands of community participants holding signs calling for equality and justice.

Photo by Chris Tuite

Fast forward nearly 50 years and LA Pride has swelled to hundreds of thousands of participants and has expanded from one day to a week’s worth of activities. In addition to the Parade on June 9, LA Pride Week 2019 includes the Pride Festival with music from the likes of Meghan Trainor and Years & Years, comedy shows, talks and an arts festival. For more information on all of this year’s events click here.