Organizers of Los Angeles’ LGBTQ Pride celebration are dropping plans for a “ solidarity protest march” after being hit with criticism for seeking collaboration from local police for the event.
Christopher Street West, which produces L.A. Pride, announced Monday that it would instead turn the proposal over to All Black Lives Matter, an advisory board of Black LGBTQ activists and community leaders.
The news came less than a week after Christopher Street West announced plans for the march, to be held June 14 in place of the city’s annual Pride parade. Much like the ongoing demonstrations taking place worldwide, the event was conceived as a “response to racial injustice, systemic racism and all forms of oppression.”
At first, the June 3 announcement garnered an enthusiastic response from members of the city’s LGBTQ community, though some questioned how social-distancing measures would be enforced. In May, all in-person L.A. Pride festivities were canceled as part of citywide efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
A day later, the mood quickly soured when a screenshot of an event permit application submitted to the Los Angeles Police Department was posted to Twitter. As Out magazine’s former deputy editor Fran Tirado pointed out, partnering with the LAPD went against the mission of the protests, which began as a response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans at the hands of police.
Tirando urged non-Black people hoping to march to instead collaborate with “Black organizers, so we don’t co-opt the movement.”
Other advocates, including National Black Justice Coalition co-founder Jasmyne Cannick, felt similarly.
By June 5, producer Jeff Consoletti withdrew his involvement from the event. In a lengthy note on Instagram, he said the plan for L.A. Pride to “stand with the Black Lives Matter movement was not carefully thought through.”
“I apologize and now see that these actions demonstrated the type of privileged, passive, and systemic issues that permeate society today,” Consoletti wrote. Though Christopher Street West had assured him it had secured the Black LGBTQ community’s support for the march, “it has become clear that is not entirely the case,” he added.
After acknowledging that it had not collaborated “with enough key leaders and activists in the Black community that have been fighting on the frontlines,” Christopher Street West apologized directly to Black Lives Matter leaders on Monday.
“We recognize systemic racism, implicit bias and privilege permeates this country, and this includes the history of our organization,” the group wrote on Instagram. Noting that it “will no longer be involved in organizing what will now be known as the All Black Lives Matter march,” it nonetheless encouraged LGBTQ people to participate.
The fallout comes as LGBTQ community leaders are moving forward with virtual events in what’s turning out to be a less-than-celebratory Pride Month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With parades canceled and nightlife venues shuttered, many hope that Pride ― criticized for relying heavily on corporate sponsors in recent years ― will return to its roots as a protest for social justice.
Days after L.A. Pride’s initial announcement last week, New York’s Reclaim Pride Coalition said it, too, planned to stand in solidarity with the Black community this year. Though details are scarce, their event is called the 2020 Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality, and it’s slated for June 28.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Fran Tirado as a Netflix employee. He recently left the company.