West Hollywood, CA- During the weekend of June 10th and 11th, I had the pleasure of attending Los Angeles’ annual Pride festival in West Hollywood on behalf of Blurred Culture. I attended pride weekend a few years back, but didn’t spend much time inside the music festival, so this was my first time experiencing all the activities in full effect. Just a few days shy of the anniversary of the devastating tragedy at Pulse night club in Orlando, paired with the current political climate, the atmosphere at this year’s pride was one of strength, resilience, and support.
There wasn’t a moment during my attendance that my eyes weren’t fixated on something eye-catching. There was glitter, platforms, neon colored wigs, ornately decorated tutus, spectacularly intricate body paint, and rainbow flags galore. The MAC exhibit was especially eye catching. Beautifully sculpted bronze men danced and posed for pictures alongside a flirtatious float while the DJ spun pulsing tunes from inside of a giant coconut. You could have spent the entire day just at that installation, it was sooo fun.
The attendees at the music festival set out to make a statements with their attire, especially on Sunday following the Resist March that scheduled that morning. I found myself amused by the witty and unapologetic signs and t-shirts with phrases like “Let Me Be Perfectly Queer” and “Let’s Get One Thing Straight: I’m Not.” Other notable mentions were a tote bag that one of the vendors was selling with the words “Totes Gay” and shirts that set forth a “Gay Agenda” for the week that included a schedule with plans to become more gay as the week progressed, and ending the week with a gay brunch on Sunday. But all of the humor aside, perhaps the most powerful statements that I came across were signs that displayed support and a demand for equality for everyone. I snapped a photo of a woman holding a sign in support of her nephew that read “Gay Nephew, Proud Aunt”.
The performances scheduled for the weekend made for an incredible musical experience. Though L.A. Pride made a conscious effort scale the music festival down from last year, this years line-up still could have easily competed with the other big name music festivals. There were three different stages that gave the crowd a variety of music to experience. There was the main stage (Park Stage) which featured pop acts, the Latin stage (Plaza Stage), and the Hip Hop stage (BLVD Stage).
The Park Stage was packed with high energy performers. One of my favorite performances was from Aaron Carter. When I saw his name on the bill it took me back to when I was 9 and hearing ‘I Want Candy’ on radio Disney non-stop. He brought back some nostalgia with some of his older songs as expected plus so much more with his new, mature sound. His more recent music is definitely worth the listen. Brandy’s performance on Sunday night was an absolute dream to experience. She took us back to the 90s with her career defining hits ‘Sittin’ up in my Room’ and ‘Almost Doesn’t Count’.
I was really excited to catch the Selena tribute band on Saturday on the Latin Stage. I didn’t expect the band to look so much like the original Selena y Los Dinos but the resemblance was uncanny. Selena’s doppelganger was dressed in her ubiquitous burgundy glitter, sported red lipstick and those fluffy 90s bangs that is synonymous with Selena’s image. One of the highlights of their performance was when contestants from the audience were brought up on stage to have a dance off, each of them showing off their dancing skills to one of Selena’s classic hits, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”.
The Hip Hop stage featured DJ’s for most of the time that I was over on that side. They kept the crowd moving and the energy was way up in between sets while they played some of the top songs as well as a few throwbacks in the mix. This stage also had talented male and female go-go dancers to entertain and entice the fans. The standout performance on this stage hands down was from Sevyn Streeter. Her polished set was packed with intricate, and finely tuned choreography and her live vocals were nearly flawless.
What I loved most about the festival was the variety of different experiences it offered to both the LGBTQ community and the community at large. Not only was there everything you’d expect from a festival (indulgent food, dancing, costumes, music, drinking, etc.), but there was also a plethora of different resources and information that was provided. It’s one thing to have one big celebration, but it’s even better when the sponsors and brand partners in attendance to take advantage of the opportunity to inform attendees about everything, from promoting safe sex to support groups, and also fun activities like the community sports league and the upcoming Glitter Run.
In the current social and political climate, where it seems like hate and discrimination seems raise its ugly head on a daily basis, L.A. Pride once again host a festival where everyone could live out loud and be themselves without the fear of being looked down upon. It was symbolic of what life could be like if prejudices and small-mindedness could be wiped from the global psyche, where men and women, straight or gay, can live in solidarity with one another and express themselves as they are meant to be.
If an image below is pixelated, please click through the “view full size” link for a better view.
BELOW ARE THE MUSICAL ACTS THAT BLURRED CULTURE WAS ABLE TO CATCH AT L.A. PRIDE. CLICK THROUGH THE LINK TO READ OUR THOUGHTS AND CHECK OUT OUR PHOTOS!!!