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Thousands cheer as Long Beach celebrates its 39th Pride Parade



Thousands of people people strode jubilantly down Ocean Boulevard on Sunday morning, July 10, and thousands more lined up to cheer them, carrying rainbow flags or clad in multi-hued attire, as Long Beach celebrated its 39th annual Pride Parade on Sunday morning, July 10, after a two-year hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Long Beach’s Pride Parade and its accompanying festival — which began Friday with a teen event and continued through Saturday with music, a rainbow roller rink, community walls for guests to share their stories and much more — has long been among the largest Pride celebrations in the region. The theme this year was “Many Voices, One Spirit.”

“As a gay man, I feel like it’s important to show my pride,” said Rudy Crable, 32, from Santa Fe Springs. “I feel like there is going to be a lot of energy down here, especially since it’s been two years since we’ve been able to have a parade.”

The parade, the city’s second-largest event — trailing only the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach — was expected to draw as many as 80,000 people. And the streets were packed as the participants rolled or walked through the community on Sunday.

The procession launched at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Lindero Avenue, then turned onto Alamitos Avenue. Jewels Long Beach and Tonya Martin provided the official commentary for the event, introducing each float headed down the street for the thousands lining the city’s streets. Joining in on the commentary were Mallery Jenna Robinson, Roxy Del Valle and Cory Allen.

The event has deep roots. The inaugural Pride Month in the U.S. was held in June 1970 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. That seminal event in the fight for LGBTQ equality, which began at the Stonewall Inn, was largely led by drag queens, transgender and gender nonconforming folks — and was a response to over-policing of gay spaces. It sparked a city and national gay rights movement.  Every year since, June has marked the celebration of LGBTQ pride.

Long Beach Pride kicked off 14 years later, in 1984. To do so, its cofounders — Bob Crow, Marilyn Barlow and Judith Doyle, the latter of whom died earlier this year – had to overcome myriad obstacles.

About 600 people marched in the first Long Beach Pride Parade, which lasted about 30 minutes, according to Q Voice News, an LGBTQ publication. Nearly 5,000 people showed up to the two-day festival along Shoreline Drive —  with a few protestors shouting their disagreement.



After the first parade, religious fundamentalists routinely attended City Council meetings to oppose the parade and festival — and Long Beach city officials threw several bureaucratic obstacles in the organizers’ faces in an effort to prevent the event from happening, according to a 1985 Los Angeles Times article. But the event endured — and it grew, both in attendance and in citywide acceptance.

“A lot has happened,” said Crow, who sparked loud cheers while rolling past throngs of parade-watchers on Sunday. “But they (the city) eventually came around.”

Today, Pride Month is synonymous with the celebration of self: the belief that all people, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, should be able to express themselves free from the persecution and violence that has plagued the LGBTQ community for decades. Throngs embraced that sentiment on Sunday.

Davina Dillard and Nia Webster, both 28-year-olds, trekked in from Los Angeles to enjoy the parade.

“We’re here to show support for the community,” Dillard said. “I haven’t been to a pride parade in a while and it was time.”

“We’ve all been separated for so long it’s nice to come back together and celebrate love and community,” said Webster.

Mayor Robert Garcia, the city’s first openly gay mayor, beamed as he rolled along in the parade, joined by a collection of City Council members.

“It was great to celebrate @LongBeachPride in person again,” Garcia posted on Twitter. “Pride is one of the absolute best things in our city each year, and it’s always amazing to see everyone come together to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community.”

Paradegoers appeared to be having a blast. “This is my first time,” said Nancy Valencia, 27, from Las Vegas, who drove three hours to attend the parade. “There’s a lot of community — and it’s really pretty.”

Unable to attend the parade, however, was 40-time “Jeopardy” champion and grand marshal Amy Schneider, who canceled her appearance because of a family emergency.

“While I’m very disappointed that I won’t be there to celebrate in person, please know I’ll be there in spirit, and it will be an amazing day regardless,” she said in a statement.

Several Long Beach locals, however, served as marshals, as a nod to their work in service of the LGBTQ+ community, organizers said. Among them: Michael Barber, Maria Roman-Taylorson, Cindy Allen, Naomi Rainey, Shirley Raines and Jesse Guardado.

Judi Doyle, one of Long Beach Pride’s founders, was posthumously honored during the parade and festival. Doyle, who received a death threat during the second-ever Pride event and was asked by public officials to wear a bulletproof vest when marching, died in February.

This year, the weekend celebration for pride was moved to a summer date by the Long Beach Pride organization from its former home in May.

“We made the decision to shift this year’s event to July in response to the concern over the current health conditions, as the health and safety of our guests is of the utmost importance to us,” wrote Elsa Martinez, president of Long Beach Pride, in a statement in the Pride event guide.

“Long Beach Pride celebrates the LGBTQ community with a focus on inclusion, and we work to educate the wider community that diversity builds a stronger and healthier society,” she said.

In a nod to even more inclusivity this year, the city tweaked its crosswalks from the traditional Pride rainbow hues to what’s known as the Progress Pride colors, recognizing LGBTQ communities of color and incorporating elements of the Transgender Pride Flag.

The new colors — black and brown stripes for marginalized communities of color, and, from the Transgender Pride Flag, pink, light blue and white — were arranged in arrow shapes in designs that adorned selected city crosswalks.

Long Beach Pride, meanwhile, also celebrated the transgender community by debuting its new Transcendence Dome, a pop-up museum that paid tribute to the transgender women of color who pioneered the festival.

Once the parade concluded, those with tickets to the Pride Festival had easy access to the entrance from the parade. Headliners for the concert were Iggy Azalea and Paulina Rubio.

Staff writer Kristy Hutchings contributed to this report

Source: Orange County Register

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