THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-In Text Box: #ResistMarch (Christopher Street West) will replace this year’s LA Pride Parade June 11, 2017 as a peaceful walk from Hollywood and Highland to Santa Monica Boulevard. For more information, visit the website.
In late January, LA-based philanthropist, activist and entrepreneur Brian Pendleton posted on Facebook that he wanted to see LA Pride turn into a protest march. The whole thing started “as a cranky comment on my Facebook page before my first cup of coffee,” says Brian. “We’ve had about 32,000 people join us. It went viral, basically.”
Pendleton adds, “I wanted to be a team player in the community so I joined the Christopher Street West planning committee to plan the parade but I saw this pent up demand for a march instead.”
Christopher Street West is a 501(c)3 within the LGBT community of Greater Los Angeles, committed to the goals of human rights, education, outreach and better understanding within the LGBTQ community and its allies. The nonprofit, founded in 1970, produced the first Lesbian and Gay Parade in Los Angeles to commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion in June of 1969. Today, CSW, which was incorporated in 1976, produces the annual Greater Los Angeles LGBT Pride Celebration hosted by the independent cit y of West Hollywood.
“DC is also having a march on the very same day. We’re taking a cue from what the women did,” says Pendleton. “It felt powerful for both coasts to have a massive march for human rights. I joined the Pride leadership and saw that this would be a relevant and poignant moment for CSW. Let’s make this ours and do the march.”
“Logistically, this normally happens as a two or three day ticketed festival around Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente and that’s still happening. There’s normally a parade on Sunday but this year, we’ve cancelled the parade to do this instead,” adds Pendleton.
“We are going to march from Hollywood and Highland, where LA Pride was born in 1970, to West Hollywood, where LA Pride grew up. It’s a really great moment. This year, because of the political winds and forces, we’re sort of wrapping the iconic rainbow flag of LGBTQ around women fighting for reproductive rights, the dreamers who want to stay in this country and recent immigrants who want to come here, anyone who feels impacted by the forces against human rights.
“We’ve been fighting for our rights for decades now but the last eight years, we’ve had wind in our sails and seen tremendous progress. Not wanting to have any of our rights rolled back, we stand up with our trans brothers and sisters whose fates are being decided by state governments. In South Dakota, LGBTQ people can no longer adopt. We want our rights restored.”
What’s next? Pendleton says the group has formed several committees. “Best friends have jumped on board with their friends and their friends’ friends. It’s growing every day. We want this to be the most diverse movement of people LA has ever seen, free, peaceful and safe, colorful and color blind.”
In the past, participants paid to be in the parade but marching is free. Pendleton says the outreach committee is calling on organizations to provide a personal touch to invite groups to show up on June 11 at Hollywood and Highland.
Members are also reaching out to the county and city so the city can put on extra buses and trains to alleviate the issues faced by the Women’s March. In addition, the committee has been working with Uber, Lyft, taxi and all transportation companies to help people get to and from the march as easily as possible.
“Judging from the way people are responding to the political winds,” continues Pendleton, “this is an ongoing movement to resist those efforts to roll back rights and to divide us, to take a stand against xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. We’re really proud of our people for standing up and saying, ‘This is not our America.’ As long as the political winds are blowing in that direction, we will stand up and defy it.
“I’ve always been involved. I was the Chairman of the Board of the Trevor Project. I’ve been a philanthropist my whole life. For this moment in time, I’m grateful, honored and excited to help create what could be the largest LGBTQ march in LA history. This is not a red issue; it’s not a blue issue. It’s a red, white, and blue issue. America has always been on the forefront of human rights and this is an extension.”
In Text Box: Visit the #ResistMarch website to sign up for updates. Follow #ResistMarch on social media. Instagram: #ResistMarch Twitter: #ResistMarch Tumblr: #ResistMarch
Stay tuned for additional interviews with additional stakeholders from both #ResistMarch and other resist events in future columns.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.