In early June, Christopher Street West decided to plan an LGBTQ for Black Lives Matter protest. Soon after, news broke that CSW hadn’t directly reached out to BLM leadership. CSW leadership largely blamed the communication lapse on fast-moving pieces. But critics accused the group of trying to co-opt the BLM movement. They also attacked CSW’s decision to apply for a protest permit from the police, which they said was antithetical to the movement’s call to defund the police.
Additionally, the controversy exposed a long-standing rift between the white members of the LGBTQ community and people of color, who have long felt that pride events haven’t been inclusive to individuals of color, especially events held near L.A.’s predominantly white West Hollywood community.
Other critics have said that the pride parade is too corporate and focused on aligning with business interests. Christopher Street West felt that ire when it tried to rebrand LA Pride into a multiday music festival in 2016, raising ticket prices and limiting the number of free events.
“When you talk about Black Lives Matter it puts everyone under one roof, but it silences the voices of those who don’t have the freedom to choose” who they want to love, said Sammie Haynes, an adviser for the march and pastor at Vision Church Los Angeles. “Not only [do I] as a black man matter, but also my choices matter — All black Lives Matter but we must raise our voice that the black choice matters.”
Many attendees said they were aware of the split in support surrounding the march but still felt the need to come out to support the cause.
“It’s our time to fix this. It’s our time to step up, to do the right thing, make changes, encourage people to help, and more importantly, to listen,” said Joe Keenan, 50, who held a sign that read “White people, time 2 work.” “It’s a learning experience for people, myself included, to listen to our black and brown brothers and sisters.”