Christopher Street West, producer of the annual LA Pride parade and festival, is moving the event out of West Hollywood, which has been home to the Pride celebration since 1979.
In a letter today to members of the West Hollywood City Council, CSW’s board of directors said it decided to move the June 2021 event for several reasons.
“These include construction in West Hollywood Park, the changing demographics of Greater Los Angeles, our commitment to being responsive to the LGBTQIA+ community’s needs, and our allyship and collaboration with other movements for social change,” the letter states.
“We are grateful to the City of West Hollywood for our many years of partnership and collaboration in presenting LA Pride. West Hollywood has been a successful home for the parade and festival, providing millions with a unique and incredible experience centered in this city. The community we serve and our organization have grown during our collaborations with West Hollywood, and we have been grateful to support the city and its business community by bringing hundreds of thousands of diverse visitors to the city and highlighting West Hollywood on the world stage.”
The move is likely to have an impact on the city’s economy as well as its promotion of West Hollywood as the gay center of Southern California. Beacon Economics, a consultant hired by CSW, said the 2019 Pride event 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. Beacon said the event generated $896,100 in sales tax revenue for the City of West Hollywood.
It also increased labor income for workers in Los Angeles County by $33.1 million, including $14.7 million in West Hollywood and $7.4 million in the City of Los Angeles. And Beacon said that the Pride event supported the annual equivalent of 830 jobs in L.A. County, including 397 in West Hollywood and 191 in the City of Los Angeles.
Another consulting firm, RSG, was hired by the city to evaluate the financial performance of CSW and the impact of the Pride events on West Hollywood. Noting the growth in the city’s spending to underwrite the event and provide public safety services, RSG said the positive financial impacts of Pride “are less certain, particularly as the city’s contributions relative to both festival admissions and other fundraising efforts have increased significantly ….”
A report from City Hall staffers in January recommended that the city increase its financial support for the June 2020 LA Pride to $3.05 million, up 46% from the $2.09 million in 2019. Most of that increase ($2.4 million) was meant to cover the cost of public safety measures.
CSW cancelled this year’s Pride events, which were scheduled for the weekend of June 12-14, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year it had to reorganize the festival, which takes place typically in West Hollywood Park, because much of the park was closed for redevelopment. This year’s event would have been the 50th anniversary celebration of Pride, which began with a march in Hollywood in 1970. After announcing the cancellation of this year’s Pride event, CSW said it would stage a march from Hollywood into West Hollywood to protest police violence against Black people. CSW got pushback from Black activists who said they had not been asked to participate in the plan and from City Council members, who also objected that CSW hadn’t engaged the city in the planning of the event. City Councilmember John Duran described the proposed march as “reckless.” CSW then dropped plans for that protest march.
At the June 15 City Council meeting, Council members Duran and John D’Amico suggested the city prepare a request for proposals from other event promoters to stage the annual Pride event. D’Amico will have an item proposing the city solicit multiple vendors on Monday’s City Council agenda.
“I wish CSW the very best in its future efforts,” said Mayor Lindsey Horvath today in a response to the CSW announcement. “For decades, the City of West Hollywood and CSW have enjoyed an incredible partnership and, on a personal note, I will treasure the memories I have made celebrating Pride with CSW within our city. The City of West Hollywood remains the heart of the region’s LGBTQ community and we take Pride in celebrating each and every day, year-round.”
In his response to the CSW announcement, Councilmember Duran said: “West Hollywood will continue to have its own Pride weekend as we have for the past 49 years. Santa Monica Boulevard and this historic Boystown district will remain the heart and center of Pride month as we always have.“
Councilmember John D’Amico said he believed the Pride celebrations are important to the City of West Hollywood and that it should continue to have them. He said he would be open to the city considering CSW if it were to be one of the applicants to put on the next Pride event. D’Amico said that the City of West Hollywood hasn’t had any control over the programming of the Pride events. That programming has been a source of controversy in the past, with some LGTBQ communities feeling they weren’t represented well enough. And he noted that the city doesn’t benefit from the Pride sponsorships and festival revenue. As co-sponsor, the city had to pay to support the event but didn’t get a share of the revenue it generated.