LA’s PRIDEful history

by Maya Kaplan
Photo via Adobe Stock

Celebrating pride month - Photo via Adobe Stock

As the vibrant city of Los Angeles gets ready to celebrate another exhilarating Pride Month, it is worth reflecting on the rich history that has brought us to this point. Pride month traces its roots back to the Stonewall riots in 1969. The riots, which fought for gay liberation, began after a police raid at a gay bar in Lower Manhattan known as the Stonewall Inn. The following year, Los Angeles was one of four cities to hold the nation’s first pride march. Led by Reverend Bob Humphries, Morris Kight and Reverend Troy Perry, the parade consisted of a few hundred brave activists marching through Hollywood. Unlike the three other cities, the event in Los Angeles was an officially-permitted parade. Despite getting a permit for the parade, homosexuality was still illegal in California.

Since that first parade in 1970, Pride Month has become a cherished tradition in Los Angeles. Each year, the streets of West Hollywood come alive with a kaleidoscope of colors as thousands of individuals march in unity, proudly waving rainbow flags in an exuberant display of unity, solidarity and an ongoing fight for equal rights. Over the years, the event has grown to become one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, attracting both local residents and visitors from far and wide.

Central to the history of Pride in Los Angeles is the vibrant neighborhood of West Hollywood. In 1984, the City of West Hollywood was established as one of the first municipalities in the United States with an openly gay majority city council. This groundbreaking political representation laid the foundation for West Hollywood to become an epicenter of LGBTQ+ culture and activism.

Los Angeles owes much of its LGBTQ+ progress to the numerous community organizations that have tirelessly fought for equality and representation. Founded in 1969, The Los Angeles LGBT Center is just one of many organizations that have been a pillar of support and empowerment for the community. From providing healthcare and counseling services to organizing educational programs and advocacy campaigns, the center continues to be a vital resource for LGBTQ+ individuals in Los Angeles.

The passion for pride in LA is evident right here on campus as well, as UCLA has played a significant role in championing LGBTQ+ rights and fostering an inclusive community. The university’s commitment to diversity and acceptance is exemplified by the vibrant celebrations that take place during Pride Month. From panel discussions and workshops to art exhibitions and film screenings, UCLA actively engages students, faculty and the wider community in meaningful conversations about LGBTQ+ issues.

With weekly affinity spaces, a pride admits week, a student advocacy committee, mental health services and more, The LGBT Campus Resource Center serves as a hub for support, education and activism on campus. For 25 years, the center has provided a safe space for students to explore their identities, connect with peers and access valuable resources. Over the years, the school has made significant strides in promoting LGBTQ+ equality. In 2014, the university implemented a preferred name policy, allowing students to use their chosen names on university records. In 2017, the college launched the Lavender Graduation ceremony, honoring the achievements of LGBTQ+ students and affirming their contributions to the campus community. Additionally, UCLA Health has physicians who are specially trained in caring for LGBTQ+ patients.

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