OutLoud rocks WeHo Pride on day one
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OutLoud rocks WeHo Pride on day one

Sep 14, 2023

Idina Menzel, star of Broadway and Disney fame, delivered the most energetic performance of the evening with her new hit "Move"




WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood City Council kicked off its second annual WeHo Pride with a Free Friday night celebration in a colorfully transformed WeHo Park, attracting thousands of proud revelers for night one of the three day OutLoud Festival.

Ryan Mitchell, the SoCal bon vivant and Channel Q host of the "Let's Go There" podcast teamed up with the bearded ladee mother of all WeHoan's, Billy Francesca to present an exceptional night of talent.

The evening kicked off with an eye toward a new generation of performers, starting with the DJ stylings of Vanessa Michaels and the rapturous musical explorations of Chicago born Angeleno Tolliver.

"If you are out there and you are trans, I fucking love you," said streaming musical star Jordy, the third performer to take the stage, tipping his hand on the political turmoil our community is facing.

"We have to support each other from within our community," he implored the audience.

The streaming star launched into a set of familiar hits in quick succession ("Just Friends," "Close To You," and "Long Distance.") and introduced his latest release "Boy."

Things kicked up another notch when a troop of sexy dancers twerked their way onto the stage and lit it up, introducing Drag Star Shangela, whose shontay energy pulsed all the way to Santa Monica Boulevard.

"Are y’all here to turn it up tonight? Are you here to celebrate who you are," she implored the crowd, getting very pointed about why Pride is more important than ever.

"Tonight is about Pride," she said, "and when so many in this country are turning their heads away from us — I’m not talking about you, TARGET; I’m not saying anything about you LA DODGERS," she taunted flirtingly.

"In America and around the world, it is not okay to be gay in a lot of places," she said getting more serious and to the point.

"It is not okay to say gay in a lot of places, but West Hollywood is showing the world," imploring the audience to shout "GAY" and ripping into a lip-sync choreographed routine of Beyonce's "I’m that Girl."

But, as wild as that was, it was like a countdown before true ignition, with one of the biggest names in the music world bristling to take the stage.

Idina Menzel, mega-wattage star of Broadway and Disney movie fame, appeared on stage and delivered the most energetic performance of the evening with her new hit "Move," and simply owning OutLoud.

Catching her breath and refreshing with a bottle of water, the star bantered eloquently: "Thank you for showing up for everyone who couldn't be here, everyone that's out there that may be scared, that may not have a voice right now, thank you for showing up."

"Let's let them hear our anger and our madness and our frustration," referring indirectly to the more than 500 antigay bills that are winding their way through state legislatures around the nation.

"We’re going to party in a minute but I just want to say, we’re stuck in this friggin’ outrageous world right now with all this hypocrisy, this cruelty. And I just want to say that I love all of you," her voice breaking.

"I hope you’ll welcome me into your community; I am an ally for you. I would do anything for you," she said.

With that Menzel launched into a new song she dedicated to her husband, "all my queer friends, all my trans friends, all my fabulous brothers and sisters."

Menzel, who has sold dozens of millions of records with chart topping hits like the Oscar winning anthem "Let It Go," and Wicked's "Defying Gravity" is serious about her allyship.

The Tony and Obie winning artist recently hosted the GLAAD Media Awards in New York and has a full dance card of Pride event appearances around the world, including Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. on June 11 and London Pride on July 11, 2023. Rumors of a surprise appearance at Pride Island in Manhattan are also circulating.

Her magic held sway over the color splashed, packed audience as she bantered back and forth, the audience taking the lead singing the soaring anthems of her most famous reprises.

"I’ve been in a lot of shows and played a lot of characters," Menzel said, her voice breaking. "I don't think you understand how much being here means to me."

"I don't think I would even know how to play those roles if it hadn't been for you. You’ve taught me so much about how to live courageously and live an authentic life," she declared. "That's what those characters were all about and that's what you do all the time for all of us. And you do it in such a beautiful way."

Continuing, she said, "There's just so much going on, there's so much. And you fight through it with so much joy and love and triumph. I want to thank you for all that you do. I wouldn't have a career," she said with increasing joy before launching into "Defying Gravity," letting the audience take over several times while moving the artist to tears.

Aptly, it was that electric moment when it felt as if WeHo Pride soared above the City- it was WeHo Pride's lift off moment.

The star, who is said to have donated her time to the event, stayed longer than expected, her bond with the audience so obviously intense.

At one point organizers, apparently determined to move the show along, came on stage and reminded her of her time slot. But neither she nor the audience was having it. They demanded she continue and she did, delivering a final and unexpectedly emotional performance of "No Day But Today," her hit from the musical "Rent."

She closed with an upbeat new offering and the show moved on to the West Hollywood City Council.

Billy Foncesca introduced the council, asking each for their favorite part of Pride. Mayor Sepi Shyne, the world's first out gay elected Persian, invoked the power of the women's revolution in Iran tying it to the power of Pride in the face of our community's current political situation, and was met with thunderous applause:

"We have our rights here in America, the same type of extremist, religious people who are using extreme hate to come after us," she said. "But we are used to fighting hate because we are our authentic selves. And we will always stand in Love; in West Hollywood we will always fight for you," she said, reminding the crowd that the front lines are as close as North Hollywood.

Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson, resplendent in his Pink cloud tinted hair, used his favorite Pride moment to shout "We say Gay in West Hollywood." Returning City Councilmember John Heilman, said "this amazing crowd is his favorite thing about Pride. Lauren Meister praised the transformation of the park, while Chelsea Lee Byers, the newly elected council person, said she loved the street closures and watching Pride take over WeHo.

Next up was Tinashe, and her set of familiar tracks, a less political and more down to business good time of a performance that had the crowd moving, shaking and shouting in joy as at least one dancer entirely disrobed.

And finally, Jesse Ware, the UK chart topping singer, songwriter and broadcaster who is perhaps most famous for "Say You Love Me," took the stage and continued the evening's theme, praising the community for fighting with positivity and joy.

Her songs soar and the audience were treated to a fitting closing show, featuring "Free Yourself.

Dallas Hinton, a 26 year old who attended alone, drove from Simi Valley. "This is exactly what I needed right now. The power of tonight was in every song, in every message and every move of every dancer." When asked what that power is to him, he said, "Fight with joy. Fuck back with joy. We are not going back."

By almost any measure, WeHo Pride 2023 has already transformed WeHo.

A new art installation at the entrance to the OutLoud Festival is so beautiful that it could easily become a new feature to the queer city.

And along Santa Monica Boulevard for the first time since the days of Pat Rocco and early LA Pride, a Ferris Wheel is featured, this time in the median.

Maybe a bit of fantasy, but I think after tonight, they stay.

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ABC7 is your official L.A. Pride station! Join our hosts Ellen Leyva and Christiane Cordero as we broadcast the parade on ABC7




LOS ANGELES – (KABC7) The 53rd annual L.A. Pride Parade will be rolling through the historic heart of Hollywood Sunday, and you can watch the celebration on ABC7.

The grand marshals for the parade this year are Margaret Cho, the ACLU SoCal and the late Leslie Jordan – a family member will represent Jordan.

The parade will feature a special performance presented by the ACLU SoCal and staged by Morgan McMichaels to music by 14-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren.

The parade features hundreds of marchers, colorful floats, celebrity guests, and there will be a few big surprises too.

There is a new route and direction this year. The parade will start at Sunset Boulevard and goes up Highland, and then turns right on Hollywood Boulevard, rolling all the way to Cahuenga where it makes a final right turn heading back to Sunset Boulevard.

It all begins Sunday, June 11 at 11am.

ABC7 is your official L.A. Pride station! Join our hosts Ellen Leyva and Christiane Cordero as we broadcast the parade on ABC7, Hulu and wherever you stream ABC7 Los Angeles.

Check out abc7.com/pride for stories about the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies, and share your Pride with #abc7eyewitness.

Pride Village is the place to be after the parade with festivities taking place from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., just steps from the parade route




HOLLYWOOD – The second annual LA Pride Village on Hollywood Boulevard will bring the free, all-day street festival to a new location between Vine Street and Gower Street just steps away from the official LA Pride Parade route on June 11.

At 9:00 AM on June 11, The Hollywood Partnership CEO & President Kathleen Rawson will deliver a welcome note in front of Pantages Theatre, and at 2:00 PM elected officials – including Senator Ben Allen, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Board Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Council Member Hugo Soto-Martinez and Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur – will welcome festival goers at the Celebration Stage on Gower St. and Hollywood Blvd.

Christopher Street West Association (CSW) announced its trio of grand marshals to be celebrated at the LA Pride Parade on Sunday, June 11 taking place at its original historic location in Hollywood.

The parade, which will feature a special drag performance presented by the ACLU SoCal and staged by Morgan McMichaels to music by 14-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, will air LIVE on long-time LA Pride broadcasting partner KABC/ABC7 on Sunday, June 11 beginning at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

This year's LA Pride Parade grand marshals include comedian, actor and activist Margaret Cho as the Icon Grand Marshal, an individual who needs no introduction and achieved major milestones within their career and industry; a posthumous tribute to Emmy-winner Leslie Jordan as the Legacy Grand Marshal, a new title this year in honor of Jordan for his everlasting impact on the community; and the ACLU of Southern California, that helped CSW obtain the permit for the first LA Pride parade, as the Community Grand Marshal, which celebrates a group or individual who has had a powerful influence through their work and dedication to and for the LGBTQ community.

"I’m thrilled and incredibly honored to be the Icon Grand Marshal," said Cho. "We need this Pride more than ever. I have been attending Pride celebrations since 1978 and this time around the need to celebrate as well as unite is more urgent than it has ever been. Our love is greater than their hate.

"On behalf of Leslie Jordan, we are overjoyed by Christopher Street West's heartfelt recognition to name Leslie as LA Pride's Legacy Grand Marshal," said Jana "Cricket" Jordan. "This honor further solidifies the positive impact he made in the world, but more importantly for the LGBTQ+ community. His spirit continues to bring love and light."

"For a century, we’ve been on the front lines fighting for people to be their true, authentic selves," said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU SoCal. "We’re honored to be the Community Grand Marshal and proud to love, live among, and protect LGBTQ Californians."

"Christopher Street West is honored and humbled by this year's three grand marshals," said Gerald Garth, president of CSW. "Each have contributed to the LGBTQ+ community in their own unique ways, furthering our fight for acceptance, equality, and justice."

It will also air nationally on ABC News Live and Hulu, and wherever viewers stream ABC7 including abc7.com and the ABC7LA mobile app.

Anchor Ellen Leyva and reporter Christiane Cordero from ABC7 Eyewitness News will co-host the ABC7 broadcast. The parade route will begin at Sunset Blvd and Highland Ave heading north, then east onto Hollywood Blvd, then south onto Cahuenga Blvd, ending at Sunset Blvd and Cahuenga Blvd.

Additionally, The Hollywood Partnership, the non-profit organization that oversees the public realm in the Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID), has once again partnered with LA Pride to bring the LA Pride Village back to Hollywood Blvd.

LA Pride Village is the official place to be after the LA Pride Parade, with festivities taking place from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., just steps from the official parade route.

When the iconic LA Pride Parade returned home to Hollywood Blvd last year after more than four decades, it prompted the start of new traditions and celebrations in Hollywood, including LA Pride Village, a free and open to the public street festival.

The second annual LA Pride Village celebration promises to be even bigger and better, with a new location on Hollywood Blvd, between Vine St. and Gower St., to make room for more booths featuring local vendors and non-profits, an expanded beer garden, delicious food trucks, two performance stages for twice the entertainment, and more comfortable crowd space for dancing.

All details can be found here: https://lapridevillage.com/do/la-pride-2023.

Sponsors of LA Pride Village include Princess Cruises and Royal-bud.com.

Public transit and ride share services to LA Pride Parade and Village are strongly encouraged. For the Parade, connect to the L.A. Metro B (Red) Line and exit Hollywood/Highland or Hollywood/Vine Station. Metro has many Park & Ride lots servicing the county – parking is just $3.00 per day, payable onsite.

If self-driving to LA Pride Parade and Village, vehicles can access parking and the event site via Vine Street or Gower Street.


LA Pride Village is the ultimate free community street festival happening on Sunday, June 11, in honor of the LGBTQIA+ community. Hosted by The Hollywood Partnership and LA Pride, it's the perfect complement to the LA Pride Parade, as it is located just steps away from the iconic procession on Hollywood Boulevard, between Vine Street and Gower Street. Festivities include:


Sunday, June 11, 2023

12 PM to 8 PM (all day)


It's going down with Mariah Carey + Megan Thee Stallion! Don't miss out — tickets at lapride.org

This June in honor of PRIDE, Century City's Fairmont Century Plaza invites guests to an extraordinary two-hour live concert performance from the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles. Returning this year, the non-profit organization will be performing at the hotel with a mission to change hearts and minds through the power of music.

The event will feature a vibrant approach to an array of iconic songs from Queen, Motown, Sondheim, and more, taking place at the hotel on Saturday June 10th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This will be their main West Los Angeles PRIDE performance. VIP tickets will be $55 and will include two cocktails. Free General Admission is also available and the performance will be open to the public.

Live music has been a prominent component of the Fairmont Century Plaza experience since its beginning and the hotel is looking forward to honoring PRIDE this year with this monumental performance.

The transit system rolled out its Pride TAP cards which are available at Metro Customer Centers and TVM's supporting Pride event




LOS ANGELES – LA Metro, the official Transit Partner of LA Pride, is back again for its 24th year, this year Metro plans to celebrate Pride all month with its very own Ride with Pride campaign.

Last Friday, June 2 the transit system rolled out its Pride TAP cards which are available at Metro Customer Centers and TVM's supporting Pride events. Metro reminds Pride attendees they can avoid traffic, street closures, and overpriced parking with Go Metro to LA Pride events. Parking is only $3 – payable on the spot, at any of the numerous Park & Ride lots adjacent to Metro stations and every rail line has parking.

Just in time for Pride Month, LA Metro also announced it will officially open the Regional Connector transit project to the public on June 16.

The ambitious, complex project, which began in 2013, is unique among rail projects in the United States. The 1.9 miles of new track laid for the project will allow light rail trains to travel between Union Station and the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown's Financial District. Before the Regional Connector, that's a journey only Metro's heavy rail lines could make. Bridging this gap allows Metro to merge the hook-shaped L (Gold) line with the A (Blue) and E (Expo) lines, creating two serpent-like train lines where there were once three. The Regional Connector includes three new underground stations:

These new stations will transform the way many riders can experience the Metro system, providing riders with a seamless, one-seat journey from as far as Azusa to Long Beach and from East L.A. to Santa Monica with no transfers required.

To mark this historic milestone, Metro will provide free rides on the entire Metro transit system including Metro bus and rail lines as well as Metro Bike Share services, during opening weekend. Metro encourages Angelenos and visitors alike to rediscover downtown and explore the fun, food, shopping, and cultural landmarks now accessible via the three stations on Regional Connector line and beyond.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

At the end of the day it's not glitz, glamor or fabulosity. It's about a deeper connection that Mariah & Megan have forged with our community




HOLLYWOOD – There is no doubt that the Christopher Street West Association, the group behind LA Pride's celebration for over 50 years, knows how to throw a party. This year, in a time when the community needs it the most, they have out done themselves.

Mariah Carey and Megan Thee Stallion. Mic drops both.

While words like "divas", "queens" and "icons" would not be inappropriate, those words are reductive as to whom these two woman actually are. Each is a master at her musical and performance craft. Each has re-defined and exemplified her lane in pop culture.

More to the point, each has lived and generously given of the true concept of "Pride" itself.

Pride is a consciousness of one's own dignity. It is a confidence and self-respect for a community that has been socially marginalized. It is an empowerment that grows from a unified and shared identity, culture and experience.

Mariah and Megan are not mere pop participants of Pride, they are pillars in its modern architecture. "Mimi (Mariah) emancipated us all," Jonathan Riggs of Shondaland2 has said. She herself has given her own definition of the LGBTQ community as "Legendary, Gorgeous, Beautiful, Tantalizing, and Quality."

Megan Thee Stallion has confronted homophobia in rap music and helped evolve the genre. She has said, "It is about time. Representation is important, and it is really crucial for us all to have compassion and acceptance of every human."

Gerald Garth, the board president of LA Pride, positioned the entertainment choice this year, "Mariah Carey and Megan Thee Stallion are the perfect artists to headline LA Pride in the Park … These empowering and iconic women are sure to take the stage by storm." Clearly, each of the artists are likewise enthused over the gig. Mariah declared, "I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of LA Pride 2023. I am happy to be back in person celebrating with the LGBTQIA+ community here in Southern California and throughout all of the lands!!! Let's come together to celebrate love, inclusion, and Pride."

Megan concurred with, "I can't wait to headline LA Pride in the Park and celebrate the phenomenal LGBTQIA+ community. This incredible event advocates for diversity, inclusivity and equality, so I’m honored to perform and have a blast with all of the Hotties in attendance."

From merely looking at the professional accomplishments of each woman, witnessing them live would be a lifetime landmark event. Mariah Carey is a cultural maven on many fronts, driving from her obvious success as a singer, songwriter, record producer, to actor, and a New York Times bestselling author. Guinness World Records calls her the "Songbird Supreme." She has been credited with helping to revitalize the music industry in the 1990s and is considered one of the most influential female singers of all time. She has sold over 200 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Carey has won five GRAMMY Awards, 19 World Music Awards, and 14 American Music Awards.

Can Megan Thee Stallion compete with that? Well, she doesn't have to, nor does she have an appetite for such a conversation. She has said, "I don't feel like I’m in competitive with anybody. If I’m worried about beating somebody else, I’m not going to be the best version of me. It shouldn't be a competition because somebody else winning is not going to make me lose."

Billboard has said of Megan, "Megan Thee Stallion is a force to be reckoned with. She has a unique style, a powerful flow, and a message of empowerment that resonates with millions of fans." Pitchfork concurs saying, "Megan Thee Stallion is one of the most exciting voices in rap right now. She's fierce, she's funny, she's smart, she's sexy, she's versatile." Time Magazine did not hold back on their view, "Megan Thee Stallion is a superstar who's rewriting the history of rap music."

Like Mariah, Megan's professional pedigree is vast. She is a three-time GRAMMY-winning recording artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur. From earning two Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits with the "Savage (Remix)" featuring Beyoncé, and "WAP" with Cardi B to releasing her dynamic album "Traumazine," she has proven unstoppable. Her musical achievement recognitions, include three GRAMMY wins, nine BET Awards and back-to-back Billboard Music Awards for Top Rap Female Artist. Additionally, she has been honored for her advocacy efforts, having received the 2022 Special Achievement Award at The Webby Awards and the Trailblazer Award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Most recently, Megan made history in Nov. 2022, becoming the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Forbes’ prestigious Under 30 issue. She was previously recognized as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 after publishing her monumental "Why I Speak Up For Black Women" op-ed for The New York Times.

Those accomplishments by both notwithstanding, they each have also earned serious creds with the LGBTQ community. Their ability to do so does not seem to be superficial, but instead emanating from their own individual fabric. Mariah has spoken with great affection about the gay couple who helped raise her. Megan similarly has spoken about her mother's values. "I was raised by a woman who was her true and authentic self. So I feel like it's very important to put on for people who aren't that confident or people who don't realize the value in self-love."

Mariah has also referenced maternal influence. "It's in my genes. My mother was an opera singer. I’m clearly dramatic."

Both have headlined and hosted multiple LGBTQ Pride and charitable events. Marah has orchestrated multiple surprise LGBTQ+ marriage proposals on stage during her shows, she is a proponent of GLAAD's Spirit Day and last year released a Pride collection of merchandise. Megan has collaborates with many LGBTQ+ artists such as Big Freedia, MNEK, and Saucy Santana, she is a major contributor to LGBTQ+ organizations and celebrates LGBTQ+ fans and influencers on her social media platforms.

As matrons of Pride courage, each woman has plenty advice for their LGBTQ+ admirers. "The main goal of my music is to make people feel strong and confident," says Megan. She also points out, "I feel like, when people realize that they are the only person they need to impress, everybody's life will be a lot smoother." She also adds, "It's not just about being sexy, it's about being confident and me being confident in my sexuality."

No one would cite Mariah for having a lack of confidence either. "I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself," she has said. With that, she has laid the groundwork for a foundation of hope and courage for her followers. "If you believe in yourself enough and know what you want, you’re gonna make it happen." She has also colored her philosophy with unicorn inspirations, "After every storm, if you look hard enough, a rainbow appears," she says. She is a proponent of grabbing life and truly living it. "You can't live with regrets. It's about the journey…Whatever you’re going through in your life, don't ever give up." Her ideology is also experienced in her music, "It's kinda like being on a roller coaster. If you don't get on the ride, you won't experience the adventure."

"So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you’ll finally see the truth – that a hero lies in you."

Mariah, to be fair, has achieved a fandom that is unmatchable. She is a superstar of superstars and has earned homage from others who have their own outstanding presence in the pop world.

"Mariah Carey is one of the greatest singers of all time. She has a voice that can move mountains." – Whitney Houston said of her. "She's a genius as a musical artist, but also as a businesswoman. She's been in the game for so long and she's still killing it," stated Rihanna. Ariana Grande is quoted as declaring "She's a legend, she's an icon, she's the greatest female artist of our generation."

In short, audiences in Los Angeles on June 9th and 10th will experience moments they will never forget.

Two well spoke, brilliantly intentioned, and talented women will entertain and remind all how they got to be the icons they have become.

At the end of the day, however, it is not the glitz, glamor or fabulosity. It is about a deeper connection that Mariah Carey and Megan Thee Stallion have forged with our community. It is a bond like one that Maya Angelou wrote about when she said "People will forget what you said, people will forget about what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Our relationship with these two women is personal. "If you’ve got love for me, then I’m gonna have love for you, period," Megan has said.

When they take their respective stages, the love will be flowing, but that love and their music is more significant for when it reached us originally, when we weren't in an adoring crowd.

It was significant in the moments when we were alone, and feeling particularly ALONE. As Ian Eagleton of the Guardian described, "At my boys’ school I was shoved, spat at and brutally bullied. Carey's songs made me dig deep and keep going, even when I had a breakdown years later."

Their music gave us spirit when we had none. It gave us hope, it gave us empowerment to rise above, it helped us believe it all might someday get better.

Now it has. Now we celebrate. Now we embrace Pride. Now we vow to fight on.

Now we dance.


Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .

"Amazing Grace" Jones takes WeHo Pride's OUTLOUD Festival to a fantastic arc of musical & dance performances




WEST HOLLYWOOD – More than just about any art-form, Music has the capacity to transform and lift up, define, celebrate and soothe. It also has the capacity to lead and heal. And, vividly, that's what happened repeatedly, with artist after artist, at night two of WeHo Pride's OutLoud Festival, where a fantastic arc of musical and dance performances took a a packed WeHo Park to church, as Grace Jones herself put it.

We’ll start with her.

It was just hard to believe it, but there she was, her ever defiant and powerful self, aglow on an elevated stage, draped in a full frock, adorned with a Rainbow Crown made of pride colored knitting needles, appearing as triumphantly as the goddess she is.

Slowly she revealed her perfectly preserved 74 year young body, striking familiar angular profiles that are forever seared into world consciousness. She remains as beautiful in 2023 as the baby Grace who seemingly beamed out of nowhere in the mid-1970s, shocking the pop art world, inspiring the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, the Studio 54 crowd and every magazine cover on the planet. Grace became one of the world's first superstars to brand herself globally in the mulit-verse of music, fashion, dance, art, modeling, film and even philosophy.

She is lightning in a bottle and her performance at OutLoud night two was nothing short of a direct strike, moving cautiously (some might say gracefully) and staying on point, delivering song after familiar song, Jamaican flavored. She even floated through the crowd, diva that she is, blessing thousands with touch.

Her entire body covered in Keith Haring style drawings, she featured numerous looks that are her unmistakable brand, including a crowd favorite Keith Haring hoop dress.

Her set included nearly every song you’d want to hear from Grace Jones, including a crowd interactive rendition of "Amazing Grace."

The entire LGBTQ+ rainbow assembly of OutLoud's park packed audience erupted in a chorus of the song's spiritual full rendition and with a gusto that surpassed even grace.

WeHo Park indeed did go to Church.

But even before Grace, Orville Peck, the South African born country music singer-songwriter who wears a fringed leather mask who has never shown his face publicly, brought his chart topping Nashville sound to the park, featuring his song Pony in 2019 and his many standard hits, even his Lady Gaga approved rendition of "Born This Way, a song he introduced with an announcement that Tennessee's Drag ban had been revoked by a federal judge who deemed it unconstitutional.

The crowd erupted into chants of approval and then rocked out with Orville.

Peck's music has been described as a mix of country, rockabilly, and glam rock. He has cited influences such as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Kacey Musgraves. His flamboyant style and mysterious persona have made him a global cult figure, and he is out, loud and proud of his challenge to gender identity.

This year Tennessee and the Drag ban along with the more than 500 anti-LGBTQ laws that are winding their way through legislatures around the country animated much of the event.

Backstage at OutLoud festival, Nashville's own Brooke Eden, the country music singer sat down with the Los Angeles Blade, revealing a surprisingly profound number of changes in Nashville that stand at odds with the culture wars the state government is waging. Her story will be featured in an upcoming article in Los Angeles Blade's coverage of Nashville Pride.

But, as an industry, Nashville's music scene is embracing LGBTQ talent in ways that were once unimaginable, including Eden's own high-profile wedding at the home of Garth Brook's and Trisha Yearwood, her performance of a same sex love song on the hallowed stage of the Grand Ole Opry and even an industry staging even called Country Proud during Country Music Awards week next week in downtown Nashville.

It's a great example of the power music has to move us through difficult times, elevate, evangelize and forge alliances against the headwinds, a theme repeated during the OutLoud weekend.

Earlier in the evening, the stage of OutLoud sizzled with Santigold's eclectic mix of dance, hip hop, reggae, and rock, bringing the whole entire electric rainbow to the stage, presenting an enormous and energetic choreographed set, delivering hit after hit, including "Can't Get Enough" and "Run the Road."

The day had already seen a huge line-up of performances, Teyana Trendz, Eduardo Togi, Kento, Sizzy Rocket, Rayvo Owen, James Barre, Cub Sport, Yung Bae and Kylie Sonique Love, all combined to bring the next generation to the front and staking a claim to a proud, OutLoud movement.

Yes, we’re calling OutLoud Music Festival a movement, because it has indeed been born. And backstage, after Grace left the stage, Jeff Consoletti, the producer of OutLoud Festival, was a picture of serenity, seemed aware of it.

"Grace Jones delivered a performance making music history in West Hollywood. We created Outloud to champion queer artistry, and no one accomplishes that more assuredly than Miss Jones. We work hard to deliver a show that makes Weho proud, and I think this performance will be something the community looks back on memorably for many years to come," said Consoletti.

"I feel immense pride and gratitude to have the opportunity to deliver for my community," beamed Consoltti like Grace Jones’ Rainbow crown, this one made of sheer Pride.

Bar owner and singer Lance Bass joined the KTLA broadcast team at the 2023 WeHo Pride Parade on June 4, 2023




LOS ANGELES – (KTLA) Tens of thousands of people lined Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood for the 2023 WeHo Pride Parade. The Ally Icons for the parade were RuPaul's Drag Race, Laith Ashley, Niecy Nash-Betts & Jessica Betts, and Melissa McCarthy.

Scenes from KTLA 5's coverage of the 2023 WeHo Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California. (Linked here)




PALM SPRINGS – There is, of course, the obvious element – a strong sense of shared community with hundreds of fellow LGBTQ+ people, living our lives and taking a moment to celebrate all the things that make us both unique and essential within the totality of American culture – that marks any Pride event across the globe; but there's something special, dare we even say "magical", about the vibe in this desert city's timelessly elegant approach to the occasion.

It's difficult, in fact, to describe the blend of progressive modern sensibility and aspirational small-town idealism that defines the experience. Though Palm Springs is a long-established oasis for Angelenos seeking an escape from the big-city intensity that governs their daily lives, it's also a comparatively modest municipality in which queer culture interacts with quotidian practicality on a regular basis. That means, for the purposes of Pride, that the city comes together as a unified voice to assert not only the validity of queer experience, but the inextricable part it plays in the daily life of the community – a welcome and valued part of the diverse and inclusive environment in one of Southern California's most iconic destinations.

This year's festivities were no exception. Whether it's because, coming on the cusp of a crucial midterm election, Palm Springs Pride represents an eleventh-hour throw-down against the Trump-ist forces that threaten to undermine most of the hard-won freedoms we’ve come to take for granted, or because it reminds us of the deep well of allied support that exists around our struggle to break free of the stigma and repression of the past, the vibe at this year's 36th annual festival was a heartening dose of positivism – an unequivocally welcome counterpoint to the worst-case scenarios and doom-laden prognostications dominating our current cultural discourse.

The sense of enthusiastic solidarity that permeated the event can be attributed, at least in part, to the heavy participation of local merchants and organizations – something that is part of any Pride celebration, perhaps, but here taken to a level which made a smalltown festival feel as if it were happening in a major metropolitan hub.

With over 150 exhibitors, there was much to do, see, and sample from the vendors, artists and craftspeople, non-profits, and food and beverage providers on hand; deployed in booths, outdoor lounges, and food trucks across several blocks of the city's classic downtown corridor on Palm Canyon Drive, these representatives of the community ensured there was no shortage of activity to keep visitors entertained between the weekend's plethora of musical performances and other scheduled events.

Pride flags, buttons, gear, and other queer-affirming merchandise were available everywhere; opportunities to interact with local organizations – from nudist recreation clubs to live theatre companies to anti-bullying advocacy and support groups – were plentiful; if you were in search of a monkeypox or flu vaccination, those services were available, too, along with plentiful information and resources around other LGBTQ+ health and wellness concerns.

In addition, the location allowed for numerous stores and restaurants lining the streets of the Pride venue – many of them on the Palm Springs "must do" list for tourists and locals alike – to remain open for business, offering full access without even having to leave the festival's "Event Zone."

All of this helped to create a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming atmosphere in which all the colors, sights, and sounds of Pride were on full and constant display – an environment where everyone could feel seen, supported, and appreciated, from out and proud members of the LGBTQ+ community to allies and family, or anywhere in between.

That's not to say there wasn't a keen awareness at Palm Springs Pride of the precarious edge on which our queer future teeters. Though the atmosphere within the festival was focused on celebration, there was an aura of grim-but-determined battle-readiness that became most evident, perhaps, in the cheers of support bestowed on openly gay US Congressional candidate Will Rollins by the tightly-packed crowd of spectators as he marched in Sunday morning's parade.

Alan Uphold, a relative newcomer to Palm Springs who relocated from Los Angeles with husband Jeff Olde just before the pandemic, told the Blade he believed the sense of political urgency was sparked by the recent redistricting process that made the city part of a very "red" political region. "Because of redistricting," he observed, "Palm Springs was lumped in with the more conservative areas to the west of us that are currently represented by one of the most corrupt, anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive freedom, January 6th-denying members in Congress. There's a real sense of stress here, mixed with cautious optimism that Palm Springs voters could help Will Rollins win, because we CAN NOT be represented by a radical MAGA extremist like Calvert."

Eva L, a festival attendee from Coachella who told the Blade she came to march with Rollins, also expressed frustration over the redistricting. "I can't believe residents and politicians in Palm Springs just rolled over and didn't object to it. Being represented by Calvert is a setback to the peaceful haven that is our community. I think we should demand to be reincorporated. So, I’m here in part just to support Will and hope for the best on Tuesday."

There were voices in the crowd, too, that served as reminders that – even at Pride – not everyone is on board with progressive ideas about LGBTQ+ acceptance. Roberta C, who was wearing a Bianco for Sheriff campaign badge, told us she doesn't understand why people need Pride in Palm Springs. "You guys have it easy now – and I realize that can change – but I’m here to be with my nephew who thinks he might be transgender. I’m confused because he's going to become a woman and says he's a lesbian. He insists on being called ‘they’." The Blade offered to provide contact information for Trevor Project as she walked away, wiping a tear from her face as she said with cracking voice, "It's all too much for me."

Still, the overall mood of the crowd was festive throughout the weekend, with many people overheard saying it was the best Pride they’ve seen in recent memory. One attendee, Carlos Hernandez, who was visiting Palm Springs and happened upon the event by accident, told us "I can't believe my luck! Be always wanted to attend Pride in the states and it's just hard to believe how joyous this day has been so far."

"Joyous" is, in fact, the word we would also use to describe the occasion, which was ultimately a triumphant declaration of how far we’ve come as a queer community coupled with a fierce recognition of how far we have still to go. It's that heady mix of emotions that made Palm Springs Pride less remarkable, perhaps, for its party atmosphere and high-voltage entertainment – though those were undeniably part of the event's success – than for the thousands of little moments, powerful and personal, experienced by those who were there.

Uphold perhaps encapsulated the resonant magic of this phenomenon.

"The thing that Jeff and I love about Palm Springs Pride is that even though the event attracts more than 125,000, it still feels like a smalltown festival," he told us. "I especially like that the parade features local high school bands and students from local high school students all across the Coachella Valley."

"When we attended Pride celebrations 25 years ago in WeHo, it was practically an act of subversion and defiance just to show up. That's why, every year, I get really emotional just seeing these high school kids marching in a Pride parade," he added.

This year's Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect




PALM SPRINGS – It must be said that there are perks to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and living in Los Angeles.No, we’re not talking about the plethora of cultural, arts, and entertainment events that take place in our city, or the close proximity to Hollywood and all the glitz and glamour that entails, or the privilege of having WeHo, one of the great queer meccas, right at our doorstep.

We’re not talking about the progressive attitudes and politics that keep us insulated – for the moment, anyway – from the regressive conservatism that threatens our hard-won rights and protections across so much of the rest of our country, and even in large swaths of our state. We’re not even talking about the legendary weather.

All of those things and many more make living here a treat, of course; but for many queer Angelenos, one of the best parts of being a resident is having the option of a weekend escape to Palm Springs – and that becomes an even greater pleasure in November, when the desert city turns even more rainbow-colored than usual for its annual Pride Celebration – which launched a weekend of fun events last night with a dance party in the streets of the already-iconic, newly-dubbed Arenas District.

Since the first Palm Springs Pride was launched in 1986 (it was billed as "Sizzle"), the local LGBTQ+ community has come together to celebrate and to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Incorporated in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the festival has grown over the years into a multi-day event that is one of the city's – and the entire Coachella Valley's – biggest annual highlights.

This year's Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect. Highlights of the weekend include:

Yes, there's a lot to do, but a visit to the Palm Springs Pride website can help you sort out the where, when, and who of it all in a few short clicks. You can even download it to your phone as an app for quick and easy access to schedule information once you’re inside the event.

The festivities last through Sunday night, which means there's still plenty of time to throw on your best Pride gear, get in the car, and make that commute to the desert before it's all over. If you’re on a budget (and with inflation as it is, who isn't?), the best news might just be that the festival is a free community event – though it should be noted that gate donations are being accepted at the entry points to help keep Pride free for everyone to attend.

So, what are you waiting for? It's time to get your Pride on!

The theme is ‘Many voices-one spirit, marking three decades of the annual third largest Pride in California celebrating the LGBTQ+ community




LONG BEACH – This weekend marks the in-person return of Long Beach Pride after the coronavirus pandemic had halted previous celebrations. The celebration's theme this year is "Many voices-one spirit," marking three decades that the annual three-day festival, parade and teen pride- the third largest Pride festival and parade in California, celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.

This year, in addition to the stages and musical entertainment, organizers will be creating multiple activations and attractions encompassing the diversity and interests of Long Beach's LGBTQ+ community.

Elsa Martinez, the president of the Board of Long Beach Pride was a guest on KTLA's Morning News Thursday to discuss the upcoming weekend festival which kicks off Friday.

For more information visit https://longbeachpride.com/

Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson & Herb Wesson, this year's family-friendly celebration was a "Pride Picnic"




LOS ANGELES – Hundreds attended the 4th annual South LA Pride celebration on Jul. 1 at Norman O. Houston Park in Baldwin Hills. Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Herb Wesson, this year's family-friendly celebration was a "Pride Picnic" meant to bring together South LA's LGBTQ community and their allies for a culturally relevant pride celebration.

In addition to Harris-Dawson and Wesson, this year saw the most Black elected officials ever at a pride celebration in Los Angeles including Congresswoman Karen Bass, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Senator Sydney Kamlager, and more.

Journalist and advocate Jasmyne Cannick chaired the planning committee which included a host of community organizations.

The 2022 South LA Pride Community Picnic was sponsored in part by Community Coalition, Providence, FOX, AEG, and the LA Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department.

For more information, please visit southlapride.com.

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WHAT: WHEN: KEY TIMES: 12 PM: 12-8 PM: 2 PM: Senator Ben Allen , Senator Maria Elena Durazo , Assemblymember Rick Zbur, LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath , LA City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez 2:15 PM-2:45 PM: 3: 00 PM-10:30 PM: 8 PM: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station Historic Broadway Station Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station ************************************************************** Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more. He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine. He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] . Scenes from KTLA 5's coverage of the 2023 WeHo Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California. (Linked here) For more information visit https://longbeachpride.com/