With a unanimous vote Monday night, the West Hollywood City Council empowered the city’s business community to start developing plans for future LGBTQ pride celebrations in the city rather than hire a consulting firm to devise such a plan.
The Council was considering a two-year, $216,000 contract with MIG, Inc., a West Coast-based research company, to host visioning workshops and individual interviews and report back what the future of pride observances in West Hollywood should look like.
However, the business community was outraged the city would spend such a huge amount on outside firm when the money could be better spent helping local businesses, especially during the pandemic when so many businesses are suffering or closing completely.
Similarly, they said there was no need to hire a firm to come up with “intellectual property that really is home grown,” as Jeff Consoletti phrased it.
Consoletti is the founder of JJ|LA, the event production company which has put together the LA Pride festival for the last decade.
Consoletti offered his expertise to help come up with ideas for future prides.
“I’m more than willing to partner with the business community, with councilmembers, with boards and commissions and of course with the West Hollywood Chamber and Visit West Hollywood on ways that we can put those programs into a new and exciting and invigorated program right here in West Hollywood, really at no cost until you have plans to put into motion,” said Consoletti.
The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered to host visioning workshops, round-table discussions and interviews with community members to gather ideas for prides.
“We implore you not to spend this outrageous amount on an outside firm when we know this event intimately and believe the community knows what it wants,” said Chamber president Genevieve Morrill. “We just need to figure out how to get there and make it happen.”
A city-sponsored pride celebration for 2021 is NOT expected to occur as coronavirus-pandemic induced social distancing requirements and the ban on large group gatherings likely will not be lifted by June 2021. So, these plans would be for 2022 and beyond.
The councilmembers liked the idea of the community coming together to devise its own plans for pride.
However, Councilmember Sepi Shyne urged that the city’s Transgender Advisory Board and Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board should be consulted.
Meanwhile, Councilmember John Erickson suggested that representatives from Christopher Street West (CSW) should be brought into the discussions since they have years of experience putting together pride celebrations.
Mayor Lindsey Horvath quickly shot Erickson’s suggestion down.
“What we last heard from CSW is they were not interested in being part of the city activities and they were going elsewhere,” said Horvath. “That’s why are having this conversation tonight.”
Christopher Street West is the nonprofit which puts together the annual LA Pride events, while Consoletti is the person who transforms those plans into reality.
In July, CSW announced it intended to move its LA Pride festivities out of West Hollywood, but wasn’t sure exactly where it would go. That announcement came after decades of tension between CSW officials and West Hollywood city officials.