LA PRIDE 2012
June 8 - 10
West Hollywood, California
I realize that there are PRIDE festivals around the world. They are
all to be commended for promoting the spirit of Pride and Equality and,
while I'm sure each has its own unique characteristics, I sincerely doubt
if any of them even come close to the excitement and vibe of LA PRIDE in
West Hollywood. I guess that explains why people from across the globe
travel to West Hollywood for this eagerly awaited annual PRIDE celebration.
For 2012, LA PRIDE has a slightly different look and feel. West Hollywood
Park, the venue at which the LA PRIDE festival is held, recently underwent
a re-design. As a result, the familiar layout of LA PRIDE has changed and
this year provides more of an adventure as we make our way through an unfamiliar
configuration of vendor booths and exhibits. There's even a brand new area
that allows visitors to cool off during this warm Southern California weekend.
of thousands pass through the LA PRIDE venue perusing
booths offering a wide variety of goods and services.
LatinBoyz.com you get to see images of sexy Latin guys.
LA PRIDE, you get to meet these cuties in person!
may look like a vacation resort, but this is actually
cool, refreshing oasis within this year's LA PRIDE venue.
it may have been one of the world's greatest disasters,
at LA PRIDE, the Titanic slide is considered family fun.
have described PRIDE festivals as 'sausage fests' and
I know what they mean. They're among the foods here!
seem quite interested in the information this young
is handing out. Could it be because he's SMOKIN' HOT?
prison to Dancing with the Stars to LA PRIDE.
pack the area around the main stage to hear Lil' Kim..
main stage audience enjoys an energetic performance by
B. You can follow her on twitter @TheKelseyB.
It's Just My Opinion
This being my 4th LA PRIDE celebration, I often depart the weekend affair
with a sense of wonder at all that had been produced. The thought of how
could they improve for next year occupies my mind as I walk down Santa
Monica Boulevard. This year's event is no exception. The weekend festival
is held in the shadow of the recently opened West Hollywood Library, on
the grounds of the newly remodeled West Hollywood Park. Though it features
a different layout, there is just as many vendors, attractions and entertainment
to appeal to all who attend from as far as a few blocks or from distant
Every equal rights or GLBT focused organization seem to be represented
in the white peaked canopies along San Vicente Blvd. While we should be
eternally grateful to such groups as PFLAG, HRC, the Trevor Project and
others, I can't help be moved by the growing number of exhibitors from
GLBT supportive businesses such a Coca Cola, Bank of America, NBC Universal,
Walgreens and more. Corporate generosity is evident by the array of free
take away items from key chains, rulers, visors and travel beverage containers
to coupons, tubes of sunblock and the popular light-up pens from Cedars
Sinai which featured tamper proof caps. The variety of free canvas bags
are more popular this year due to the city of Los Angeles passing a law
banning plastic bags.
One of the most amazing features of LA PRIDE is the consistent
theme of equality among thousands who display their individuality. Teens
wander the lawn area wearing underwear and the words "drop pants not bombs"
painted on their bodies. Transgender people wear outfits that best display
the evolution of their predestined gender. Both straight and Lesbian women
embrace the freedom of wandering the grounds bare breasted with tape or
Band-Aids over their pierced nipples. Drag queens suffer the heat with
feather boas wrapped around their throats attempting to hide Adams apples
which are often larger than their breasts. It was a bit surprising that,
perhaps due to media coverage of Gay Pride events across the country, the
cliche image of leather men is rarely seen. West Hollywood's rampant collection
of Marijuana dispensaries is evident as I observe a girl with a beverage
cup in one hand and a joint in the other being stopped upon entry and told
"No outside beverages," while the pot went unmentioned. Welcome to WeHo,
The diversity theme continued with this year's separate Latino Carnival
Stage. I'm a bit confused as to the need for such a vast stage and designated
area because it was actually contrary to the sense of equality. While the
main stage provided interpreters for the hearing impaired, the Latin stage
provided no English translations for those of us who do not speak Spanish.
Every announcement I heard was only in Spanish. I find it hard to believe
that this separate area will be considered successful enough to return
next year as I never saw more than a dozen couples dancing at any one time.
Perhaps its because Mariachi style music, which to me always sounds like
it has an out-of-tune horn section, just isn't good to dance to in my opinion.
Anytime I'm near the area, there are more people watching the Go-Go boys
This off-set was more than made up for with the first time addition
of the Summer Tramp Water Park. Featuring two large inflatable pools with
more floatation devices than you would find on a Playboy playmate, the
party central area is flanked by two large inflatable water slides. One
that looks like the sinking Titanic was the most popular due to the many
Gay men who wanted to pretend they were Kate Winslett. It's opposite companion
slide featured a lumber theme and is titled, rather questionably (or, perhaps,
quite appropriately) for a Gay Pride event - The Log Jammer. A short distance
away lies the main stage which offers quite a collection of talent. That
is, among the performing acts where as the questionable emcees weren't
experienced or talented enough to address the crowd without over using
the phrases "How's everybody doin" or "When I yell LA, you yell PRIDE!"
over and over again. I understand the need to build a crowd's enthusiasm
but asking an audience which half is hotter is just pathetic. It was both
sad and amusing when emcee Billy Francesca yelled the word "Rich"
an apparent catch phrase from his show at a local club, but no one repeated
it back as he expected. Though not as well known as his talent deserves,
singer Ben Roman really knows how to talk to the crowd with a natural
attention grabbing consistency. A performer named Kelsey B and her dancers
did too many numbers while reminding me what Auto Tune was made for. I
couldn't grasp the reason for her telling audience members to get on each
other's shoulders and thus block views of those behind them. Unable to
catch all the acts I was impressed with the burlesque inspired stylings
of Le Kat and shocked at how fast the crowd grew as Lil' Kim
made her way to the stage without the help of parole officers or an ankle
While I've experienced over a dozen years of San Francisco's Gay Pride
parade it continues to be a welcome contrast that the LA parade always
starts on time. For early arrivals at the intersection of Holloway and
Santa Monica Boulevard, comedian Alec Mapa entertains and introduces
a number of performers. A dance troupe, Judy Garland impersonator and the
music trio Decolletage perform right up to the roar of motorcycles announcing
the start of the parade. As the groups march by the overwhelming
sense of pride is undeniable. Crisp uniforms of out and allied law enforcement,
High School Gay Straight Alliance, and the generous volunteers of Project
Angel Food as just some of the moments that remind us of what we are proud.
There were more than enough politicians riding in convertibles with signs
announcing their representation areas. Yet after the 20th notice announcing
their district 8 or district 12, I began feeling like I was in The Hunger
Games. Opportunist attorney Gloria Alred got a well-deserved cold reception
while introducing her latest client, an ousted beauty pageant contestant.
The gay cast member of the appropriately canceled reality series Shah's
of Sunset sneaked by practically unnoticed in an electric golf cart.
One I'm sure he uses to travel from one end of his Persian mansion to the
other. Glee vet Nee Nee Leakes had hordes of fans running
up to her car seeking autographs. Crowds applauded approval with the appearance
of Ellen Degeneres' mother Betty. They cheered for 80s icon and Grand Marshall
Ringwald, and lusted after the best collection of hunks on a float
as the Mickey's entry rolled by. Thanks to parade staff carefully encouraging
groups to keep moving the parade ended after 2 1/2 hours. Amazing. Who
ever was in charge of this year's parade should take over the Oscars.
The end of the procession didn't mean the end of the festivities. Quickly,
thousands and I do mean thousands began marching toward the West Hollywood
Park to continue the celebration. Soon the line to enter the Festival was
two blocks long heading East on Santa Monica Boulevard. The numbers soon
became were countless, screaming for Charlton Heston to lead them to the
promised land of booze, dancing and free lube samples. As the day moves
on and the sun fades, our sense of unity is strengthened. North Carolina
law or hypocritical religious leaders can not deter the GLBT community
from being our best. We are a culture whose hearts are as big as our imaginations.
A people who's love knows no boundaries. Though our numbers have been decimated
by violence, suicide and disease we will never again be silent as to the
injustice that continue to befall our brothers and sisters. It's
called LA PRIDE but it's really pride in the goodness of humanity.
Grand Marshal of the 2012 PRIDE Parade along
Monica Boulevard is actress Molly Ringwald.
colorful entry reminds us that Ventura County Pride
coming up in just two months. Should be fun!
Frat House, a popular gay bar in Garden Grove, California,
1985 is represented in today's LA PRIDE parade.
variety of reasonably hunky simulated male strippers are
to promote the new movie Magic Mike. Shake it, boys!
Atlanta to this year's LA PRIDE parade, it's
Housewife' and Glee cast member NeNe Leakes.
festive beach-themed entry is from Los Angeles
Pride to promote their 'At The Beach' event in July.
pink! This eye-catching decorated truck
from Sur Lounge, a popular West Hollywood bar.
popular Weho 'watering hole' is Fubar, and they
represented in today's LA PRIDE parade, as well.
Overall, this has been another outstanding event with just a couple
of weeds in this otherwise beautiful garden. The entertainment roster seem
to please the crowd but a posted schedule of performers (as there has been
in previous years) would have eliminated confusion at the main stage. Also,
main stage hosts Asha and Billy Francesca have done their best but, unfortunately,
lack skill in filling time when performers run a little late arriving at
the main stage.
While some aspects of this year's festival are a bit different, some
things remain the same. Christopher Street West has done an excellent job
of organizing and executing this massive event and, once again as LA PRIDE
comes to a close, I find myself looking forward to LA PRIDE 2013.
For more information on LA PRIDE: http://www.lapride.org
For Eye On Weho's highlights of LA PRIDE 2011, click
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