A new one-day LGBTI festival comes to downtown Los Angeles this weekend – at a time when the official Los Angeles Pride is facing down its fair share of criticism.
DTLA Proud will take place on Sunday in Pershing Square.
Much of Greater LA’s gay scene has historically been focused in West Hollywood. However, in the last couple of years, an alternative scene has sprung up in the downtown Los Angeles area.
DTLA Proud has the support of many of these newer venues, such as Precinct, Redline and Bar Mattachine.
Organizers of DTLA Proud say that the event has come about from a desire to showcase what’s going on in the downtown area. However, its arrival coincides with a difficult year for the official LA Pride in nearby West Hollywood.
Earlier in the summer, LA Pride announced changes to this year’s June festival. These at first included an increased entry price of $54 for a three-day pass
Some felt that event was being turned more into a weekend music festival. Others were angered that the trans and dyke events, which normally take place on the Friday evening ahead of the weekend’s main parade, had been seemingly downgraded.
‘I think this is going to be a historic day for our city’
A protest campaign, #NotOurPride, was launched and called for a boycott. Eventually, LA Pride, backed down on some of the changes and the boycott was called off.
However, the #NotOurPride campaign remains active. In July, and again on 17 August, community forums have been organized by the City of West Hollywood for members of the public to engage with LA Pride representatives and tell them what they want from the festival.
Local LGBTI advocate Peter Cruz, Associate Director of the APAIT (Asia Pacific AIDS Intervention Team), was among those instrumental in setting up the #NotOurPride campaign.
He has been invited to give the keynote community speech on stage at DTLA Proud.
‘I look forward to it and am really excited for it,’ he said in a phone call to GSN. ‘I think this is going to be a historic day for our city and the start of a new chapter for the Pride movement.’
He doesn’t think DTLA Proud was started as a result of the #NotOurPride criticism of LA Pride, but says, ‘I think it was somewhat serendipitous in terms of how everything just came together.
‘With the #NotOurPride movement, we were trying to be as public and get as much people to join our movement and make people aware of what we were trying to do.
‘Concurrently, the Downtown LA Proud promoters were trying to promote their event, so I think we just started running parallel things which complimented each other. We [APAIT] are very supportive of DTLA Proud.’
‘This isn’t an alternative to LA Pride, and it’s not meant to serve as the answer to people’s complaints about LA Pride’
The Pershing Square event will feature performances, DJs, community stalls and a pop-up water park. Early bird tickets for $5 have now sold out, with regular advance tickets costing $10. Names participating include Cazwell, Big Dipper, Ellis Miah, Josh Peace, Jackie Beat, Landon Cider, Rubin Sanchez and Sister Bearonce Knows, among many others.
MCs for the event are the Boulet Brothers, promoters of Dragula and Queen Kong events in downtown LA. They are members of the DTLA Board and oversaw the programming. In an interview with World of Wonder this week, they were keen to distance the event from LA Pride.
‘It’s completely unrelated. This isn’t an alternative to LA Pride, and it’s not meant to serve as the answer to people’s complaints about LA Pride. This is just a growing community coming together to celebrate our presence in the neighborhood for one day.
‘There can never be enough ‘pride’ in LA or the world’
Another DTLA Proud board member is Oliver Alpuche, owner of Redline DTLA. He was also keen to stress to GSN that the event was going to be very distinct, and that plans were being discussed well in advance of this year’s Pride in West Hollywood.
‘We’re very focused on downtown and what’s happening there.’
Pershing Square has a capacity of around 6,500 and Alpuche says they’d be very happy to get around 4,000 for the first event.
‘We’re a growing scene downtown. We support each other in the work we do. That’s what’s exciting about it for me. And all the nightlife that happens downtown is going to be coming together on one stage, and that’s exciting.’
Ellis Miah, another of those appearing at the festival said, ‘Watching this communities businesses, residents and artists work tirelessly to bring this event to life really captures the spirit of pride to me. I am looking forward to playing on Sunday alongside so many talented peers!’
Approached by GSN for comment about DTLA Proud, Chris Classen, President of LA Pride/Christopher Street West, wished the new event well.
‘There can never be enough ‘pride’ in LA or the world, we welcome DTLA Proud and wish them the best!’