Long Beach Pride, “30 Years Proud,” kicked off LGBT Pride season and celebrated with rainbow flags, floats, costumes, music concerts, comedy celebrities, dancers, organizations and yup, the famous parade. It invaded downtown Long Beach on May 19, 2013 for its 30th Anniversary. This all began in 1983, with what organizers have said was an uphill battle. The mission, in the words of Pride co-founder Bob Crow, was simple: “To break the shackles of the oppression of homophobia in the community and the general population.” Today, Long Beach, California regularly makes Top-10 lists spotlighting our country’s most LGBT-friendly cities and neighborhoods.
Long Beach LGBT Pride is also the first of many Pride events that take place throughout the region over the summer months and has held this place of distinction for many years. The city has one of the most successful and large-scale Pride festivals in all the land. And when I say “large-scale” I mean large! In this year’s parade, thousands of spectators were lined up along the route and the parade had more than 125 entries. It is the 2nd largest LGBT event in Southern California after the West Hollywood celebration and is the fourth largest pride event in the nation, behind San Francisco, New York and West Hollywood.
The parade kicked off at 10:30am at Lindera Avenue and Ocean Blvd, marching west to Alamito Ave in Long Beach. I was able to arrive early in the morning before the parade and take photos with friends and Transformation Magazine fans. There were arrays of colorful floats from organizations all over California. Some of the entries have up to 100 people marching with them. Examples of these entries included Palm Springs Gay Pride and Long Beach Roller Derby Gals, and several floats featured elaborate decorations and costumes like Hamburger Mary’s, Frat House, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Executive Suite, and Jamie’s Tgirl Nights. The parade also has entries from bigger corporate entities including Disneyland, Jet Blue Airways, Ralph’s Grocery Store, Wells Fargo, Boeing, Bud Light and Walgreens. The parade grand marshals included the founders of Long Beach Pride Judith Doyle, Bob Crow, and Marilyn Barlow.
When I arrived and walked down to the float stand-by area, I saw lots of happy people and greeted them by shouting “HAPPY PRIDE!!” with love, laughs and support. The crowds cheering on the floats were a mixture of supporters of the community, parents & children, families, and friends. I also saw that hundreds of parade-goers had their own signs like “Peace,” “Equal Rights for All,” “Smash Anti-LGBT Bigotry,” and “Fight Back!! LGBT, Equality Now!!”
When your community is famous for not only embracing diversity but regularly celebrating it, you tend to see several positive results grow from that spirit. This is our anniversary, our celebration, each and every year. It is amazing how much our Pride event has grown, and how the city of Long Beach really turns out to support the LGBT community. It is my honor to cover this event and I’m proud to be a part of this special event each and every year with our fellow community. I’ll be back next year and you should all come out to join me and show your PRIDE!!