CSW and the WeHo Council Must Come Out of the Closet about LA Pride

la pride 2013 parade

The dissatisfaction among some members of the Christopher Street West leadership with CSW’s relationship with the City of West Hollywood and the local business community has simmered quietly for some time. It finally reached a near boiling point recently when board members and others involved in CSW management spoke privately to WEHOville about the issue, raising the prospect that CSW would move its annual LA Pride march and festival from West Hollywood to downtown Los Angeles.

The response? CSW President Rodney Scott proclaimed everything was hunky dory. West Hollywood City Council members John D’Amico and John Duran, whose criticism of CSW and LA Pride in January prompted their appointment to a subcommittee to address their concerns, declined to comment on what progress the subcommittee had made. No doubt that is because, seven months later, the subcommittee has never met.

While those involved in staging LA Pride and members of City Council, which allocates substantial local resources to the event each year, dove for cover and obfuscated, members of the LGBT community and their friends, for whom the Pride parade and festival are intended, jumped at an opportunity for public discussion.

Commenters on WEHOville.com have complained about the $20 cost of attending the festival and about being badgered by merchants inside eager to sell everything from tacos to porn videos to credit cards. They have noted CSW’s inability to land the sort of major figures as grand marshals who lead Pride parades in San Diego and New York City. They have noted that the event focuses less on the political and social issues that LBGT people still confront than on partying. And they have complained that Pride isn’t especially welcoming to older LGBT folks or to young hipsters more likely to live in Silver Lake, Los Feliz or downtown Los Angeles than in upscale WeHo.

Now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, it’s time for CSW and the West Hollywood City Council to publicly engage one another and the LGBT community in a discussion of what can be done to make LA Pride the best it can be. That conversation is essential to ensure that Pride remains in West Hollywood — which, given our concentration of LGBT people and our reputation for acceptance makes us the perfect location.

The City Council can start by actually scheduling public meetings of the subcommittee it supposedly formed in January. CSW’s Rodney Scott, dodging the question of whether the subcommittee has met, says CSW is always talking with individual council members. But such secret talks among the powers-that-be have done nothing to solve Pride’s problems and are contrary to the sort of openness one would expect of an organization that celebrates gay liberation.

For its part, CSW needs greater transparency and communication with those whose liberties it was formed to celebrate. Its annual claim that the Pride event attracts 400,000 attendees has no credibility. Pride festival revenue figures filed with the IRS show that ticket sales have been in steady decline for a number of years. CSW’s IRS filings, required of non-profit organizations, are murky at best, leaving it unclear who it contracts with for Pride services and what it pays those contractors, including Scott. CSW doesn’t release recent IRS filings, which means that the latest available for public inspection are two years old.

Let’s hope that by 2014, when LA Pride celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, CSW and the West Hollywood City Council will have come out of their respective closets and engaged the public in a discussion of what is arguably our community’s most important annual event. There is no reason we all shouldn’t be proud of LA Pride.

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Eric
Eric
8 years ago

Since LA’s LGBT community is no longer ghettoized in Hollywood or West Hollywood, why not have LA Pride relocated to a different neighborhood every year?

Today, there are significant concentrations of LGBTs in Downtown LA, Silver Lake, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Studio City, Venice, Mid-City and West Hollywood. Why do we need to celebrate in the same place over and over when we can embrace Los Angeles’ distinctive characteristic of being a city without a center.

Our communities will benefit from cross-pollination.

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

Get the festival out of the gay ghetto and make it an inclusive event. Move it downtown.LA’s pride doesn’t belong to the west side or a production company from NYC.

Rob
Rob
8 years ago

I don’t understand why the City of West Hollywood would be criticized for how CSW, an independent organization, runs its event. WeHo grants the permits, but it’s CSW that sets the admission fee and arranges just about everything else. I’m disappointed that little distinguishes the festival from any other neighborhood street fair, except for some booths having more overt sexual themes.

Bill Gordon
Bill Gordon
8 years ago

I do think it’s appropriate to have pride in West Hollywood because that became the place where it was ABLE to be for so many years. Sure, we could have had it down Temple, or Figueroa, but what fun would parading be with people throwing things at you? WeHo was a safe place, it was OUR place, and I think it’s appropriate that that be remembered for pride. And, I have to say that after the renovations of West Hollywood Park, that this year’s festival was an extremely well done affair. I do, however, have some nits (nuts?) to pick.… Read more »

minatoguy
8 years ago

The organizers should visit Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis. There are older people, heavy people, people of varying ethnicities and families with children. I’m a proud gay man and I loved the inclusive feel of that event. Do we need another weekend of jockstrap wearing hotties dancing on floats and puking in the streets? I just saw that last weekend in WeHo, what makes pride special then?

Kersu
Kersu
8 years ago

Take Pride back to the streets of Los Angeles where it all began over forty years ago. The first Pride parade in the NATION was held on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles! Please let’s save Pride from the vodka and lube companies and bring LA Pride back to the streets of LA!

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

“young hipsters more likely to live in Silver Lake, Los Feliz or downtown Los Angeles than in upscale WeHo.” – typical weho bigotry. it’s only ‘young hipsters’ that live on the east side, because they can’t afford to live in ‘upscale West Hollywood’ – yea right. nobody over 45 or with any money lives on the east side…

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

“which, given our concentration of LGBT people and our reputation for acceptance makes us the perfect location.” – why should we celebrate in the ghetto. This is LA pride, not WeHo pride. move it downtown. invite the whole city.

dana miller
dana miller
8 years ago

HS: I have written about this so very often over the past decade, I’m fairly certain I was on a CSW hit-list at one point. Chain link fencing, flat bed trucks carting blown speakers piping It’s Raining Men, $20 fees to get into a place ostensibly created to sell you more crud, wildly inflated attendance numbers, questionable honorees from time to time. I like Rodney quite a bit and he has always been a champ to me, yet it IS time for a change. Santa Barbara’s solstice parade is a better pride event and it’s not even gay. Our pride… Read more »

Riley
Riley
8 years ago

Ditto, Jol Devitro. West Hollywood Pride. We do not live in Los Angeles.

Jol Devitro
8 years ago

it should be called west hollywood pride. yes, west hollywood is its own city, it deserves its own pride. and los angeles is a city also very deserving of its own pride. so please let’s just call everything what it is. Two Cities. Two Prides.

Rik
8 years ago

The city should put out an RFP to large event planners, including CSW, to get competitive bids. Whomever can put on the best event (with a successful track record) and the best price should get the job.

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