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LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-Lee

In order to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, the LGBT community around the world celebrates Gay Pride during the month of June. Los Angeles Pride (“LA PRIDE”), organized by the Christopher Street West Association, an LGBT non-profit human rights organization, is the LGBT Pride event held in West Hollywood, California and for the past 16 years, tens of thousands of people convene at West Hollywood Park to celebrate individuality and diversity while raising awareness of gay people and their contributions to society.

LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-LeeI had the pleasure/privilege of being approved to review and photograph the musical artists performing at this year’s LA Pride Festival. With three stages (the Main Stage, a Latin Stage and a Hip Hop Stage), there would be a variety of music to appease musical tastes of all types. When I arrived Friday night to start my coverage, the first thing I immediately noticed was the energy of the environment. The positivity in the air was electric and everywhere I looked, I saw friends and lovers, both straight and queer, holding hands, smiling, dancing and kissing with a kind of freedom I don’t normally notice, even in West Hollywood.

LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-LeeTo say that the festival was colorful would be an understatement. I found myself taking second looks at various people, reveling in the effort and care that they took to glam up their personal experience. Attendees went the extra mile to celebrate their individuality with creative costumes and outfits; expressing themselves wholeheartedly in a place where they knew that the only looks their way would be ones of awe and wonder, and not ridicule and scorn. I’ve been to many music festivals, and while yes there are always the handful of “fashionable” patrons at those festivals, LA PRIDE definitely could have held its own amateur runway fashion show.

LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-LeeI split my time on Saturday by covering a few acts from another music festival that was happening across town, but I made the conscious decision to leave that festival early because I wanted to go back to the place where life and love’s cup runneth over. It’s hard to resist returning to a place where everywhere you turn you are greeted with a wink or a smile. It’s hard to resist a place where even the event security is dancing with you to the music the DJ is spinning in between acts. That kind of joy … that kind of freedom … it’s hard to explain, and can only be experienced. It was the confluence of people, emotions, ideology and … well … love, that gave LA PRIDE this unique energy.

Then came Sunday morning.

LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-LeeLike many others, I was shocked to hear about the mass shooting in Orlando at the LGBTQ dance club Pulse. Only two days earlier, I had heard about the shooting death of the young, aspiring singer Christina Grimmie after her concert at The Plaza in Orlando.  I was particularly disheartened that these deaths happened in places where music is featured, and I was a little hesitant to head out on Sunday, especially when I heard about that idiot who was arrested in Santa Monica before he made his way to the festival with an arsenal of weapons in the trunk of his car … But then I reminded myself that music, in and of itself, is healing and that “if music be the food of love, [it must] play on” (Shakespeare).

LA-Pride-2016-Photo-By-Derrick-K-LeeWhen I arrived on the festival grounds early Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere was definitely a little more somber. Clearly, people were still grappling with the news from earlier in the day. But between and during all of the performances throughout the day, the artists and MCs kept reassuring the crowds of the healing power of love, and that it was every person’s duty, gay or straight, to use their voices to motivate change.  As the day progressed, the music seemed to act as the perfect panacea as the people in the crowd began to open up and express themselves like they had on Friday and Saturday.

Carly Rae Jepsen headlined the final evening of L.A. Pride, and as she performed, you could feel West Hollywood’s heart beat with every note. It was quite a cathartic experience. There are lots of issues that still need to be fought for/discussed. Gun control. Equal rights. Religion. Tolerance. Acceptance. But Lin-Manuel Miranda probably said is best when he accepted his Tony Award for Best Original Score Sunday night:

“We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer / And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

This page will be updated with links of each of the artists we were able to cover. Please keep it locked here, or follow us on social media, for updates.

Carly-Rae-Jepsen-LA-Pride-2016-Concert-Photo-By-Derrick-K-Lee

REVIEWS AND PHOTO GALLERIES

FRIDAY, JUNE 10th

  1. Gia
  2. Da Brat
  3. Krewella
  4. Faith Evans

SATURDAY, JUNE 11th

  1. Lion Babe
  2. Shamir
  3. Diana Reyes
  4. Bebe Rexha
  5. Charli XCX

SUNDAY, JUNE 12th

  1. Conrad Sewell
  2. Gallant
  3. Timeflies
  4. Big Freedia
  5. Carly Rae Jepsen

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