Pride Intramurals: So Big, One Parade and Party Isn’t Enough

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Jun 24, 2014
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Unless you’re living way out in flyover territory, chances are that your city has an LGBT Pride celebration every year. As visibility grows and the "closet" increasingly becomes a thing of the past, LGBT folk in just about every municipality have a parade, rally, dance party, barbecue or softball tournament to celebrate our community. But many areas have more than one Pride celebration, often with dramatically different formats and vibes. EDGE takes a look at some urban areas that duke it out for Pride supremacy in Battle of the Prides!


Long Beach vs. Los Angeles

Long Beach, CA, is located less than 30 miles from the metropolis of Los Angeles, but their Pride celebrations couldn’t be more different.

Held on May 17 and 18, Long Beach Pride attracts 80,000 people over two days. The 31st Annual Parade steps off in the early morning hours at Bixby Park and includes seven large dance areas plus the main stage, where Queen Latifah almost came out in 2012! This Pride is a festival for the whole family, with a Family Fun Zone, an Oldies But Goodies Tent and Long Beach Teen Pride, for the youths.

On the main stage this year, guests enjoyed performances of every type from some hard-hitting performances. The main stage featured Corday, Kelly Rowland, Cazwell, Dev, CeCe Peniston and more. Urban Soul came courtesy of DJ Boom, DJ Jiji Sweet and DJ Tish.

Fiesta Caliente served up Belanova, Feld and Jesse Medeles, and country music fans got nothing less than lesbian superstar Chely Wright, Miles Long and Mike Schikora. Dance music fans grooved to DJ Lancia, DJ Chrissie Stereo and DJ Sha. Long Beach Pride also featured a "Laugh Till You Tinkle" comedy show with comedians Jewel, Konner H. Kienzle, Sampson and Vicki Wagner.

Long Beach is a thriving, hopping Pride scene, meant for every gay and their mother, kids, and old gay grandma to get out and kick up their heels. Tickets are $20 at the gate. For more information, visit longbeachpride.com.

Over in Tinseltown, LA Pride is held June 6 to June 8 in West Hollywood, the gayest neighborhood west of Christopher Street. The Sunday morning parade alone attracts more than 400,000 spectators and marchers, shutting down Santa Monica Boulevard. And it is a much more polished affair. This year, rocker Demi Lovato serves as the Grand Marshal, with Jennifer Hudson, Azealia Banks and the Bangles headlining.

In the spirit of charity, Friday night’s Lavender Menace showcase is free. It features Mary Lambert, Betty Who, Z Lala, Monogem, Marley Munroe and a lineup of transgender performers on the Latino Carnival Stage.

DJ Asha and Billy Francesca will lead you through the Saturday and Sunday lineup, with Banks, Hudson, Kingdoms, Jeremy Thurber, Danity Kane, Deborah Cox and more.

More than 150 exhibitors will be on hand, over-21 wristbands are required to drink, and no pets of any kind are allowed - so leave your drooling sidekick at home!

Tickets are $35 for both days. For more information, visit lapride.org.



Brooklyn vs. Bushwick

In case you hadn’t heard, New York City is huge, with Brooklyn big enough to stand as the nation’s fourth largest city, were it not happy being labeled a "borough." Dubbed "the lesbian capital of the world," Brooklyn should have the coolest of all Pride festivals. Alas, that’s not the case.

The borough’s official Brooklyn Pride Festival is held from June 9 to June 14 in Park Slope. Now in its 18th year, it is a dated, lackluster affair of local organizers, random funnel cake and tube sock sellers and an admittedly cool night parade, which this year features Grand Marshals NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

The Front Runners kick things off on June 14 with a 5K Fun Run in Prospect Park in the morning, which leads to a street fair, recently moved to Fifth Avenue between Third and Ninth streets. The night parade kicks off in the same swath at 7:30 p.m.

It’s not like Brooklyn Pride is the worst thing ever, but compared to the amazing festivals held in Queens, Manhattan and even Staten Island, the Pride celebration for the city’s presumably queerest borough is a little underwhelming.

But across town in the scrappy Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, some up-and-coming dykes have taken it upon themselves to start the Annual Bushwick Pride and Solidarity March. Founded in 2005 by the group Make the Road New York, the Eighth Annual Parade held last year on July 13 was a powerful, silent march to highlight the devastating impact of discrimination on LGBTs and people of color. It went up Knickerbocker Avenue past Maria Hernandez Park and back home again, where attendees enjoyed free food "lovingly cooked over an open fire."

The event organizers march to stop the police from using condoms as evidence of prostitution, to protect LGBTs in the workplace, and to secure civil rights. They partner with high schools to launch Gay-Straight Alliances and anti-bullying initiatives, and to give gays access to health care, insurance and HIV testing. Everything is free, and everything is for the people.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/386480301469521/


Cleveland vs. Columbus

We all know by now: Cleveland rocks. And it rocks even more this year, as it has been selected as the host city for the 2014 Gay Games from August 9 to August 16, drawing 30,000 people to the city. With 36 events, some of the overflow competitions will be held 40 miles away in the welcoming city of Akron, Ohio.

On Saturday, June 28, Cleveland will celebrate its 26th Annual Cleveland Pride Parade at Voinvich Park, behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their Pride event focuses on demonstrating mutual respect and appreciation of similarities and differences in the community, and works to be inclusive of all age, race, culture, education, ethnicity, disability and lifestyle. It is a relatively small event, with only about 2,500 attendees, but it is heavy on marchers, among them many inclusive religious groups.

The festival draws many more people, up to 16,000 according to their 2013 count. Many people attend in the evening for the House Ball competition, now in its fourth year.

The festival features a family-friendly Triangle Stage, and a diverse Performance Stage for adults. There is an expanded food court and lakefront beer garden. Returning this year will be their signature Youth Towne Zone (provided by the partnership of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland), Young Children’s area, and more.

There’s a suggested donation of $10 to $20 at the gate, but all are welcome. For more information, visit clevelandpride.org.

Two hours away in Columbus, Ohio, on the weekend of June 20 and June 21, Stonewall Columbus Pride 2014 is proud to announce that George Takei will serve as the Grand Marshal for their annual celebration, including the 2014 Pride Brunch. Surprisingly, this annual event brings more than 200,000 people to celebrate in what Gay Travel has named its "Most Underrated Gay City."

The weekend includes a two-day festival on Friday and Saturday at Goodale Park, plus a Saturday-afternoon Pride Parade through downtown Columbus along High Street to Goodale Park.

Columbus Pride is all about the related events, from the June 6 Pride Unleashed Dance for Pride event, to the Friday night Betty Who and Andrew Christian Swimwear Fashion Show, to the Saturday night Unity Ball 13 inside Axis Club, with Dragapalooza held outside.

Celebs for Columbus Pride are a bit more lowbrow, among them "Glee" star Alex Newell, "American Idol" star Crystal Bowersox and "The Voice" star Beverly McClellan and Vicci Martinez, but this little city has a ton of heart, and a hell of a lot of revelers.

For more information, visit columbuspride.org.



Pride Across the U.S.

Pride is in full swing this season. Here are just a few of the major pride celebrations being held around the country this month. For a full list of Pride 2014 celebrations held from Albuquerque to Vancouver, visit edgeonthenet.com/pride.

Boston - June 6-15
www.bostonpride.org

Washington DC - June 7-8
www.capitalpride.org

Brooklyn Pride - June 9-14
http://brooklynpride.org

LA - June 6-8
www.lapride.org

Philadelphia - June 8
www.phillypride.org

Providence - June 21
www.PrideRI.com

Denver - June 21-22
www.glbtcolorado.org

New Orleans - June 20-22
www.gayprideneworleans.com

Chicago - June 21-22
www.chicagopridecalendar.org

New York - June 27-29
www.nycpride.org

San Francisco - June 27-29
www.sfpride.org

Seattle - June 28-29
www.seattlepride.org


Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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