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At WeHo Pride Parade, attendees express support for LGBTQ+ community

LGBTQ+ community members hold up a sign during Sunday’s WeHo Pride Parade. Sunday marked the third and final day of the West Hollywood pride celebrations. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Christopher Buchanan and Catherine Hamilton

June 5, 2023 12:16 a.m.

For some, this year’s annual WeHo Pride Parade marked important firsts.

Alumnus Kevin Jang said he attended Pride with his boyfriend for the first time Sunday to celebrate embracing his sexuality as an adult. During his time at UCLA, he was able to discover and explore his sexuality, a journey which continued into his adulthood, he added.

“It’s different as a student because everyone is trying to learn who they are, and it’s more accepting. But as an adult, it felt a little different,” Jang said. “I wanted to come out here to say, ‘Hey, I’m proud. I know who I am now.’”

Tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ community members and allies celebrated Pride Month in West Hollywood during the annual WeHo Pride Parade. Pride events have happened in West Hollywood since 1979, according to WeHo Pride’s website.

Streets from San Vicente Boulevard to Crescent Heights Boulevard were blocked off to host the 2023 celebration.

The city’s weekend Pride celebration began with artists such as Tinashe and Idina Menzel performing Friday and parades and street vendors filling the streets Saturday. Sunday’s festivities were marked by pride-themed floats, street performances, street fair vendors and cheering crowds. Pride celebrations in WeHo began in May.

Pride was first celebrated in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago in 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall riots a year earlier. The Stonewall riots, which occurred the year before in 1969, began as a protest against continual police raids of LGBTQ+ businesses in lower Manhattan and resulted in injuries and the arrests of protestors.

Makena Kenerly, a barista, said this was her and her partner’s first time attending Pride since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Isabella Sanchez, Kenerly’s partner and a delivery driver for the dispensary MedMen, added that this parade was especially significant because of their recent gender transition.

“I think queer joy is so important. I think that’s such a big reason why we showed up today,” Sanchez said. “We want to show how happy, you know, … to enjoy with like-minded people and be in a safe space.”

Children, teenagers and adults celebrated in the streets with blowhorns and cheers while floats decorated with rainbow flags, costumed dancers and performers rolled down San Vicente Boulevard. Some float performers interacted with the audience by snapping photos with parade attendees and blowing kisses to the cheering crowds.

Certain floats featured choreographed dances and bands while people on other boats passed out items, including free fans, leaflets and fanny packs. Several businesses and corporations involved in sexual health and wellness and LGBTQ+ support participated in the parade, handing out promotional items and floats to show their support for the community.

Nicole Mitchell, the director of diversity and inclusion at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said she and members of the medical center attend the parade every year to ensure that their employees and patients feel recognized.

“We’re thinking about patient care and really, our employees – we want to make sure that we’re supporting the community as a whole,” Michelle said. “We’re providing good care, but it’s also to all of our employees that they have a place at Cedars-Sinai.”

Spencer Swigart, a student at the LA Film School and a West Hollywood resident, said he felt that it was essential to attend Pride to celebrate the large LGBTQ+ community in the city.

Lindsay Walter, a third-year physiological science student, said she believes it is essential for corporations to show even more support for the LGBTQ+ community at events such as the WeHo Pride Parade.

“I know there’s a lot of talk about corporations and people profiting off of pride, but I do think that it’s very important for all big companies and corporations to show their support for communities that support them,” Walter said.

(Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Actress Melissa McCarthy is pictured. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the parade, performances and street fair market. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Some UCLA students attended the parade to support the large LGBTQ+ community on campus, such as Sydney Magno, a third-year public affairs student. She said she believes UCLA should promote a sense of belonging among the campus community and recognize the many identities of its students.

Jang said he thinks UCLA could have improved the support systems available to LGBTQ+ students during his tenure as a student. He said he was not aware of the services the UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center or other organizations offered to students at the time, which made it more difficult to explore his identity and sexuality.

Walter said she believes UCLA should continue to support the LGBTQ+ community on campus and beyond to assure there are safe spaces for the community in education.

“As long as they’re doing their best to be genuine allies to the community we have on campus, I’m so happy to see anything that UCLA does,” Walter said.

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Christopher Buchanan
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
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