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West Hollywood Pride celebrations bring together LGBTQ+ community

People gather on Santa Monica Boulevard for the WeHo Pride parade. This year’s event marks 45 years of the annual parade. (Zoraiz Irshad/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Gabrielle Gillette and Alexandra Crosnoe

June 5, 2024 8:38 p.m.

This post was updated June 5 at 11:23 p.m.

West Hollywood kicked off June with its annual WeHo Pride Parade on Sunday, drawing participants from across Los Angeles with its rainbow-drenched streets and candy-colored floats.

For many, the parade acts as a safe space, allowing participants to express themselves to the fullest extent, said Colin Streeter, a third-year political science student. Pride weekend also included the Pride Street Fair, as well as the OUTLOUD music festival that highlighted performances from Janelle Monáe and Kylie Minogue, among others – both of which began Saturday and continued into Sunday.

This year marks 45 years of Pride events in West Hollywood. Pride parades began in 1970 in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York following the 1969 Stonewall riots protesting the practice of police raids of LGBTQ+ bars in Lower Manhattan.

“It’s amazing to just be able to be out here and be openly gay,” said Keifer Lamberth, a second-year geography student. “That wasn’t my experience for so long.”

The City of West Hollywood set up various attractions down Santa Monica Boulevard – which was blocked for pedestrian access only – including booths from community organizations, photo opportunities and a ferris wheel.

During the parade, community members watched rainbow-, balloon- and streamer-decorated floats drive down Santa Monica Boulevard. Multiple floats featured businesses and politicians, including Lindsey Horvath – chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and former mayor of West Hollywood.

Several organizations marched in the parade to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, including Free Mom Hugs, a group of mothers that seek to support and empower queer individuals.

Judy Dodgen, a member of Free Mom Hugs, said she joined the organization after her child came out to her. While she supported her daughter, she said she was concerned by seeing other parents not accepting their LGBTQ+ children.

“I wanted to be out there saying, ‘Not every parent is going to reject you,’” she said. “There’s parents out there and people out there who support you.”

Jade Dodgen, Judy’s child, said they found this year’s Pride to be a celebration of how far they had come in their journey of self-acceptance.

“When I came out, it was very early COVID. I just felt super isolated,” they said. “I didn’t know how much better it would get for me, looking at where I was then versus where I am now with a mother who so supports me.”

Lamberth added that while people should use Pride as a chance to celebrate their sexuality, it should also serve as a reminder that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is ongoing.

“It’s also easy to forget that the fight is still happening in an environment like UCLA,” he said. “There’s still homophobia out there.”

Streeter said this was his first Pride parade and that he wished he could have seen it when he was younger. He added that Pride is important for spreading awareness of the LGBTQ+ community, especially for those who may not feel safe coming out.

“I think that it’s so important to let people know that there’s a community that’s thriving, growing for them, and even if they’re closeted or don’t feel safe right now, we’re always going to be there for them,” Streeter said.

Streeter also said that coming to UCLA was an eye-opening experience after meeting so many people being themselves and taking pride in their sexuality.

Jacob Nanquil, a third-year geography/environmental studies and psychology student, said the community at Pride was what had made it a meaningful experience for him. Lamberth added that he met several new friends in the LGBTQ+ community – including Nanquil and Streeter – at the parade.

“We can all come here, and no matter who you are, what you love, who you want to be with, we all support that,” Nanquil said.

Contributing reports by Zoraiz Irshad, Daily Bruin senior staff.

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Gabrielle Gillette
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
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