LGBTQ Pride in West Hollywood for June 2021 will primarily be a virtual event.
That’s the word from a City Council subcommittee meeting on Wednesday about the city’s pride festivities, both for this year and future years.
With LA Pride withdrawing from hosting any pride events in West Hollywood, the city is now discussing what type of pride events it should host, both this year while the pandemic is still underway and in future years when the pandemic is expected to be over.
The Council subcommittee briefly discussed having a small, street-fair type event this year. The street fair would likely be similar to the free Pride on the Boulevard portion of the 2019 LA Pride events. That Pride on the Boulevard, almost universally hailed as successful, closed off a portion of Santa Monica Boulevard and allowed various vendor and non-profit booths to set up.
However, the city is reluctant to put on any in-person event this year which might attract large crowds of people and possibly become a coronavirus super-spreader event.
“For this year, it’s a hard no any in-person events,” said Councilmember Sepi Shyne. “Given the fact we are still in COVID, I feel that if we promote anything in-person, the crowds are going to come.”
Shyne noted that people are restless after a year of being cooped up by the pandemic. She did not want to see a situation in West Hollywood like happened with huge crowds of spring break revealers congregating in Miami Beach last weekend, forcing that city to impose a curfew.
Further complicating any plans the city might have to do in-person events this year, Kristin Cook, the city’s public safety director, explained the LA County Public Health Department is unlikely to approve a street fair or any type of in-person gathering.
Similarly, Cook said the sheriff’s department like could not provide adequate staffing for public safety at such in-person event(s), due to staffing shortages at the department.
Also factoring into the decision – the city is experiencing budget shortfalls due to the pandemic and needs to be cautious about how much money it spends on events. At one point, spending approximately $185,000 on Pride 2021 was mentioned, but Shyne said that amount would have to be cut back drastically.
Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and Jeff Consoletti, who has produced multiple LA Pride events in WeHo, suggested creating a special WeHo Pride video for streaming on TVs in area restaurants and bars.
The subcommittee liked the idea of such a video, but suggested it should only be an hour long. Exact details of what would be on such a video are unclear, but it would likely have some singers performing, plus a short speech or two from public officials and clips of various people talking about pride.
Another idea the subcommittee liked was that of spreading the city’s pride festivities (both the virtual events and streaming the pride video) over all four weekends in June, rather than having it concentrated on one weekend.
Councilmember John D’Amico suggested dedicating one of those four weekends to trans events, another weekend to lesbian events, another to bisexual events and finally one to gay events. Thus they would cover all four branches of the LGBT.
D’Amico expects there will be several social-justice type marches during June, similar to last year’s All Black Lives Matter march which went from Hollywood to West Hollywood, ending at the intersections of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.
“Last year, [the Council] was very careful to support marches but not endorse them,” said D’Amico. “I hope there will be [social justice marches] again. I hope some of that will show up in our community again.”
Before the Pride plans are finalized, the full City Council must sign off on them.