Despite the heat, throngs of celebrators turned out in West Hollywood for the LA Pride parade and festival this weekend, which this year was billed as a “TLGB” celebration, with the usual LGBT acronym scrambled in order to highlight the transgender community.
Aside from this year’s moment of silence being dedicated to trans people killed in hate crimes, the parade didn’t showcase trans issues extensively. For instance, none of the parade’s marshals—Demi Lovato and the plaintiffs and attorneys from the Prop 8 lawsuit—were representatives of the trans community. And there weren’t a lot of trans-specific contingents—although marchers with many different groups held signs expressing transgender pride or support for transgender rights.
Inside the festival, the T-first focus was more evident. A large “TranStation” area decorated with blue and pink trans pride flags drew a steady crowd of transgender people and their allies. With a canopy, white couches and a cell phone charging station, it was an appealing spot to get out of the sun—and to learn about trans community resources. Postcards about trans community services sat out on tables along with a piece of butcher paper where people were invited to write their answer to the question, “How do you express your gender?”
Representatives from the new Transgender Health Services program at St. John’s Well Child & Family Center were on hand to promote the program and to answer basic questions about transgender health services such as hormone treatments.
“I like that it [Pride] is T-first—that’s kind of exciting,” said Dr. Kirsten Ware, a family practice physician with St. John’s.
Transgender community activist Drian Juarez, who was involved in CSW’s transgender coalition, said she felt an “energy shift” with this year’s Pride. “I think it’s really queer and I love it,” said Juarez, who called it “the best time I’ve ever had at Pride … I’m loving it.”
The crowd, she said, seemed more diverse than in years past—even “beyond trans” with more people representing various shades of queerness beyond gay and lesbian.
One shade of queer that’s not always embraced in LGBT spaces is the bisexual community, and both CSW and New York Pride have faced criticism for a perceived lack of commitment to bi issues.
David Tiktin, an organizer with the L.A.-area bisexual group amBi, said that there has been a lack of bisexual representation at Pride but that he doesn’t fault “Pride itself or the powers that be.”
Tiktin, who was staffing the Bisexual.org booth, said that until recently the bi community hadn’t really organized itself—and that when amBi started marching in the parade six or seven years ago, CSW seemed excited to have a bi contingent. The amBi contingent grows each year, Tiktin said, and this year’s contingent, which marched carrying a huge bisexual pride flag, was the biggest yet.
Along with more visibility, he said, amBi has found more acceptance in the community.
“We’ve had more people in the crowd get excited when they see us,” Tiktin said.
In the spirit of full disclosure, WEHOville contributing editor Stevie St. John was a member of the CSW Transgender Coalition, a volunteer group that includes trans leaders, students and allies. She was also a co-worker of Drian Juarez in her former role at the LGBT Center, where Juarez is manager of the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project.
It was great to see you at the festival. Thank you for helping us get the message out.
Next year it should be BLGT. One step at a time, but making changes for the better.