Pride events have been happening in Los Angeles for nearly 50 years, with the glitzy, and costly, LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood drawing dozens of celebrity performers like Meghan Trainor and Amara La Negra just last month. Princess Murray, a community advocate at Star View Children and Family Services, remembers being unable to afford entry and having to sneak in to enjoy the festival with her friends. It was part of the inspiration that, decades later, led to her idea of a free community Pride event in the south LA County city.
With the assistance of a team of 80 volunteers and a year of outreach to the community, the first ever PRIDE festival in south Los Angeles will be held on on the Compton College campus Saturday, July 6. The free event will be an inclusive, family-friendly festival for people of all ages with live performers, entertainment, carnival games, food trucks, a DJ, and 150 resource vendors. This first annual event is designed to create a safe, accepting celebration for the LGBTQIA community.
“Compton is an area often devoid of resources for the LGBTQIA community, and yet it’s an ideal place to highlight and recognize the benefits of diversity,” said Tina Binda, Administrator of Star View TEAMMATES, a non-profit mental health/social services organization serving youth and their families. “Compton is easily underestimated and even marginalized much like the LGBTQIA community, so we wanted to celebrate gay rights as well as the anniversary of the Stonewall riots 50 years ago.”
According to the most recent US Census, nearly 75% of the residents of Compton identity as Black, Latino, or non-white, with nearly a quarter of them living below the poverty line. These facts were an important part of the development of the event, according to Murray.
“African Americans and Latinos and minorities have always been a significant part of the LGBTQIA movement,” Murray recently told Marketplace. “Compton is easily underestimated and marginalized, just like LGBTQIA youths, [with] a lot of stereotypes that [no] longer exist … because they aren’t visible.”
News of the event has inspired an enthusiastic response in and around Compton. A few dozen rappers, comedians, and singers will take the stage, including DJ T-LA STORM, Bre-Z from the All-American, BRITT-J from American Idol, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, TV personality/singer James Wright, singer/songwriter Lunalovebad, and even Tommy the Clown. Speakers include celebrated activist Jewel Thais-Williams, who has promoted gay identity since she founded the first African-American gay nightspot in Los Angeles, one of the first black discos in the US.
Integrating the event into the community, and highlight community safety was also important, according to event volunteer and Star View mental health supervisor Josephine Wallace, who talked to LAist about repacking out to local gangs to help avoid violent incidents and choosing to have their own security team in lieu of relying on the LAPD.
“We’re trying to promote safety, positive self esteem and education,” Wallace told LAist. “We want to bring an opportunity for young people, particularly, to be able to celebrate their identity and community.”
Visit the Compton Pride Festival Website for more information.