More divisions are opening in the LGBTQ communities with two gay members of the West Hollywood City Council suggesting the city look to someone other than Christopher Street West to stage the annual Pride parade and festival, and one of them criticizing the painting of the transgender flag in the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilmember John D’Amico raised the idea of the city issuing a request for a proposal for next year’s Pride event from other vendors, citing controversy over CSW’s plans to stage a march in West Hollywood to protest police violence against Black people.
Councilmember John Duran agreed with D’Amico and described CSW’s plans for that protest march as “reckless” because it hadn’t consulted in advance with the City of West Hollywood, which has helped underwrite the Pride parades and festivals that take place in June each year. Duran suggested that the City Council remove “CSW” from the name of its CSW/Pride subcommittee, which consists of two Council members who negotiate plans for the event with CSW.
“You don’t work with a partner by just dropping an event into the middle of the city with 10 days notice,” Duran said, referring to CSW’s proposed June 14 protest march. “I think it was irresponsible. I think it was reckless.”
CSW had announced the protest march on June 3 after earlier cancelling what would have been the 50th annual Pride parade and festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with pushback from some Black community leaders who said they had not been consulted before the march was announced, CSW dropped its plans for the protest. Then members of the “solidarity march committee” that CSW had created to plan the event stepped forward and launched the “All Black Lives Matter” protest march. That march on Sunday attracted an estimated 20,000 or more people and was the largest public event ever in West Hollywood.
The All Black Lives Matter march began in Hollywood and ended at the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, which are the site of two rainbow colored crosswalks installed in 2012 at a cost of $80,000 in honor of the LGBTQ communities. On Saturday night, people had gathered to paint a large blue, white and pink image of the transgender flag in the middle of the crosswalk. Those participating in the protest march also called out the names of Black transgender people who have been killed recently.
Duran objected to placing the trans symbol in the intersection. “I get it. It’s a form of protest. It’s a form of expression,” he said. But, Duran said, when the city made plans for the rainbow crosswalks it decided not to place any symbol in the center of the intersection.
“I don’t think we can tolerate any group coming in and deciding what sort of painting or mural they can put on our public property.” Duran said that it should be removed.
Suggestions that the city seek another vendor for the annual Pride parade and festival may bolster arguments by some LGBTQ people that it move out of West Hollywood and into downtown Los Angeles, which now hosts its much smaller, but very popular, DTLA Proud event in August. The annual Pride event has a major economic impact on the city. A study commissioned by CSW showed that it increased economic output in Los Angeles County by $74.7 million of which $27.7 million was concentrated in West Hollywood and $18.2 million in the City of Los Angeles. Economic output is the value of goods and services provided during the Pride event.
The Pride parade started in 1970 on Hollywood Boulevard and in 1979 moved to West Hollywood, which had become known as a gay mecca. CSW, a non-profit organization, has managed the parade and the festival, which began in 1974.