News Round-Up: July 15, 2020

Joe Blizzard (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above), signaling in from Yosemite National Park, calls this “being a nerd, as usual.” Nerd???

LGBTQ Nation: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed four pro-LGBTQ bills into law this week. The new laws range from banning gay/trans panic legal defenses in cases of violence, making PrEP easier for gay folks to obtain to prevent HIV infection, and making it easier for trans people to change the gender markers on their state ID documents.

GMA: Mary Trump, niece to President Trump, whose new book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, was just released, speaking to ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos about her uncle: “He is utterly incapable of leading this country, and it’s dangerous to allow him to do so.” It’s worth noting that Ms. Trump is a trained clinical psychologist.

Washington Blade: Facebook and Instagram have announced they will ban conversion therapy content/posts on their sites, following a block on paid ads promoting the practice earlier this year.

Instinct Magazine: LA Pride has announced that it will be moving out of West Hollywood after almost five decades of celebration citing ongoing construction in West Hollywood Park as well as the changing demographics of Greater Los Angeles.

VOTE: Eight of America’s leading fitness photographers have joined forces for “Flex Your Vote,” a new campaign that urges the LGBTQ community and its allies to the polls this November.

“It’s painfully clear why this is the most important time in our lifetimes to vote,” says Mike Ruiz, the campaign’s organizer. “We are being engulfed by a pandemic, millions are unemployed, the government is riddled with corruption. We need to change the direction of this country or we are headed towards a dictatorship where we will be stripped of our rights.”

LA Pride Announces Solidarity March With Black Lives Matter Movement

The previously canceled LA Pride parade will march after all.

The organizers, Christopher Street West, announced in early May the annual parade and Pride festival would not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But half a century after the first Pride parade recognized the Stonewall riots, the LGBTQ community will march on June 14 in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In 1970, we gathered on Hollywood Boulevard to protest police brutality and oppression to our community,” said Estevan Montemayor, the organization’s president. “We will do that again this year, where it began, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”

Montemayor called for “all community members who believe that we must root out this racial injustice and stand in solidarity with the black community and fight for real reform and change in this country on all levels of government to join us in this peaceful protest, in this march for justice.”

“It is our moral imperative to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism and joining the fight for meaningful and long-lasting reform,” he added.

A peaceful protest march in response to racial injustice is planned for Sunday, June 14. It will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland boulevards and proceed to West Hollywood, where the parade normally takes place, ending at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that participants engaging in the march should wear face coverings at all times.

Additionally, Los Angeles will celebrate its first-ever virtual Pride Parade. The primetime 90-minute special will air on ABC7, Saturday, June 13 (7:30 – 9:00 p.m. PDT), with an encore presentation on Sunday, June 14, 2020, at 2:00 pm PDT.

View this post on Instagram

To our LA Pride family: While we had previously cancelled all in-person events due to COVID-19, we have decided to peacefully assemble a protest in Hollywood, where the first ever permitted Pride Parade took place, in solidarity with the Black community. 50 years ago, Christopher Street West (CSW) took to the streets of Hollywood Boulevard to peacefully protest against police brutality and oppression. We feel that it is our moral imperative to honor the legacies of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism and joining the fight for meaningful and long-lasting reform. The California Department of Public Health recommends that participants engaging in the march should wear face coverings at all times. WHEN: Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 10am PT WHERE: Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. Hollywood, CA 90028 Together With Pride, LA Pride

A post shared by LA Pride (@lapride) on

The reversal comes about in light of the recent protests taking place across the country after video footage of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, went viral.

Kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Chauvin continued pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for three minutes even after he lost consciousness. Bystanders begged the officer to check his pulse. Chauvin did not.

Chauvin was eventually charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and yesterday those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder. The three other police officers – Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood near the others – are now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Two autopsies on Floyd have determined that he died by homicide.

Palm Springs White Party, LA Pride Postponed Due To Coronavirus Concerns

(image via White Party/Facebook)

Add Pride celebrations to the long list of events now being postponed thanks to concerns about the coronavirus threat.

Organizers for Los Angeles Pride announced today that “all events related to the 50th Anniversary of LA Pride that were scheduled for June 2020” have been postponed.

On Thursday, organizers for the first-ever Pride of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale announced the event would be moved to later in the year.

Miami Pride has been canceled with no replacement date announced.

The White Party in Palm Springs has been rescheduled to October 30 – November 2, 2020.

Seven Year Prison Sentence For Indiana Man Heading To LA Pride With Explosives

James Wesley Howell pleaded no contest to charges of unlawful assault weapon activity, possession of a destructive device on a public road or highway and possession of a destructive device. The 22-year-old was sentenced to 7 years in state prison on Thursday.
James Wesley Howell

Just hours after the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, two years ago, an Indiana man was arrested and police confiscated weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials found in his car.

In court this week, James Wesley Howell pleaded no contest to charges of unlawful assault weapon activity, possession of a destructive device on a public road or highway and possession of a destructive device. The 22-year-old was sentenced to 7 years in state prison on Thursday.

Howell was found sitting in his car in Santa Monica in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, after police responded to a call regarding a man knocking on residents’ windows and doors.

From the LA Times:

Inside his car, police found three rifles — including an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 .223 caliber rifle that police described as an assault weapon — and two 30-round magazines.

In addition to the guns, Howell was also driving with a full five-gallon container of gasoline and a 25-pound container of “Shoc-shot,” a commercially sold two-component explosive that detonates when hit by a high-velocity rifle round, Santa Monica police said at the time.

Howell also had a black hood, a Taser, handcuffs, a Buck knife, a security badge and additional ammunition for the guns, court records show.

At the time of his arrest, Howell told police he was planning on attending LA Pride, but the Indianapolis Star later reported he had been charged with sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl in Indiana.

As a result of the Pulse shooting and the dangerous materials found in his possession, security measures were heightened at the Pride festival.

(h/t LA Times)

LA Pride Oversells Tickets, Hundreds Of Angry Pride Attendees Turned Away

Image via Instagram – earlier in the day at LA Pride before the crowds exceeded capacity

Hundreds were turned away from West Hollywood’s Pride Festival on Saturday night, including many people who’d purchased tickets.

Over 100,000 have people turned out for the LA Pride Festival, meant to run before and after Sunday’s Pride Parade.

Although Saturday’s festival was meant to run from 12 PM to 1 AM the event hit capacity attendance by 10 PM. As a result, the fire marshal and West Hollywood Police stopped all entry to the festival.

According to some attendees, the police reaction might have gotten a little over the top with cops in reported riot gear.

“What were they expecting, Stonewall?” said Jerwyn Morton who flew in from New York City to attend LA Pride. “I have never seen so many cops in my life wearing riot gear at a gay event.”

From the LA Blade:

In the past several years, the event has faced an increasingly more complex geometry as the West Hollywood Park where it is held has been unavailable for the event. At the same time, organizers have added more and more high-end music programming and stages while reducing more carnival like attractions and vendors.

“The Festival has become a full on Rave. I went this evening because I wanted to simply stroll around the festival, but the line of early 20 something people was 20 people deep for several blocks, said Christopher Johnson, 44, of Long Beach. “I’m glad it’s successful but I’m not welcome. There’s nothing there for me anymore and it makes me feel old.”

NBC Los Angeles reported disturbances at the will call window and in the street, and an LA County Sheriff’s Department officer was assaulted.

Journalist Garrick Kennedy tweeted that the driving force behind the surge in ticket sales was headliner Kehlani’s fans.

LA Pride promoters announced that anyone who purchased entry to Saturday’s festival event will be able to use it on Sunday:

The LA Pride promoters did at least post video of Kehlani’s performance:

News Round-Up: April 20, 2017

Some news items you may have missed:

• Jerry Herman’s classic Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! returns to the Great White Way tonight at the Shubert Theatre in a brand new revival starring a reportedly delicious Bette Midler. I made my Broadway debut in the last revival back in 1995 (I’m on the far left above) when Carol Channing made a spectacular return to the role of “Dolly Levi.” Wishing this new cast all the best for a fantastic run!

• TIME Magazine names Gavin Grimm, Sarah Paulson and RuPaul to this year’s “100 Most Influential People” list.

• Adam Medrano, the council member who chairs City Hall’s LGBT Task Force, has made LGBT youth homelessness a top priority. His leadership has led to the creation of Outlast Youth, a collaborative effort intent on finding beds, counseling, health care and job training for homeless LGBT youth.

• On the other end of the spectrum in Texas news, Governor Abbott says he wants to sign a transgender “bathroom bill.”

• Turning this year’s Pride Parade in Los Angeles into an anti-Trump march is making it tough to attract the event’s usual sponsors.

• CNN spoke to to two men who describe being detained, beaten and tortured in Chechnya as part of the country’s violent crackdown on homosexuality. Watch below:

Man With Assault Rifles And Explosives Arrested In Advance Of LA Pride

UPDATE: The LAPD has released the man’s name – James Howell of Indiana – and his mug shot.

Los Angeles police are reporting a man in possession of explosives and assault rifles has been arrested out of concerns for attendees at Los Angeles Pride.

Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call of a suspected prowler near Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street. Patrol officers responded and encountered an individual who told officers he was waiting for a friend. That led officers to inspect the car and find several weapons and a lot of ammunition as well as tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb.

The car had Indiana plates. The man made comments that he was in town for the Pride event in West Hollywood this weekend. The source said authorities did not know of any connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning and the Santa Monica incident. The investigation has been taken over by the FBI. The source said the man appeared to be white.

A city official in West Hollywood also confirmed the arrest and stressed that officials were beefing up security at the gay pride event.

“They found him with weapons that were very disconcerting,” said the source, adding officials are “taking the appropriate safety precautions.”

The parade comes hours after the attack at the Orlando club that killed 50 people. At least 53 were injured in the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman took hostages. The gunman has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said.

One source in West Hollywood said there was discussion of calling off the parade but that officials decided to go forward, with heavy security including undercover officers in the crowd.

LA Pride Steps Back From Some Ticketing & Programming Changes

After pronounced vocal turmoil over proposed changes at LA Pride (changing the name to “LA Pride Music Festival” for a start), the producers of the event have decided to step back from some of the adjustments to the annual event’s programming and ticket pricing.

Via press release:

Dear LGBTQ Family,

We heard you and we are sorry.

As an LGBTQ community based nonprofit organization, Christopher Street West has strived to create an annual Pride celebration that brings our entire community, friends and allies together in celebration of the unique diversity that makes each of us a valued member of society. As a mostly new governing board our goal was to create the best LA PRIDE experience to date. As we endeavored to create such an event we have made a few missteps along the way that have left valued members of our community feeling left out or under appreciated. This was never our intention. We’ve heard your concerns and objections and we sincerely apologize.

Pride has a very different meaning for each individual, and everyone has a different way that they envision celebrating Pride. We fully respect that and strive to create a weekend that can offer something for everyone. Additionally, we had record crowds in 2015 and needed to make some adjustments to physically accommodate our growing audience. In the spirit of community, and as a result of many discussions with various community members, we have decided to make changes to this year’s LA PRIDE programming:

Free Friday:
CSW will return Friday night to a Free Friday experience for the community. Previously Friday night included free programming along with a ticketed experience. Friday night on the main stage will continue to be a celebration of women with an all-female lineup and the annual Dyke March. The Trans Social, a new Youth Dance and a Vogue Ball will also remain as a part of Friday’s programming. Several activations and new experiences will be eliminated as a result in order to balance the Friday night budget but the Festival will maintain its stellar list of scheduled performances including Krewella, Faith Evans, Da Brat and María José. Everyone is invited to stay and enjoy the all-female performers on our main stage, top DJ’s on our Hip Hop stage, and a Miami Nights theme on our Latin stage. We invite the entire community to join this free celebration.

Trans Social:
Trans Social will return to its previous time and location on the Library Lawn, formerly last year’s Latin Stage, between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

Single Day General Admission Ticket pricing will be adjusted for Saturday and Sunday with advanced tickets on sale beginning Tuesday, May 17th for $25/day General Admission. Single Day General Admission Tickets for Saturday and Sunday purchased at the gate will be $30/day. We do still have the discounted weekend pass options for the many who like to celebrate all three days. We are still working with our partners on providing FREE tickets to community members including our Volunteer program which provides a free day General Admission pass for anyone who volunteers for a four hour period.

Please stay tuned for upcoming announcements from Parade highlights to Festival programming including entertainment and arts and cultural experiences coming to LA PRIDE.

As we begin planning for 2017’s LA PRIDE Festival and Parade, we look forward to engaging the entire community in planning next year’s celebration.

In Pride,

The Board of Directors, Christopher Street West

Some folks had raised concerns that some of the proposed changes, in part to attract a younger generation, included higher ticket prices and shifted focus from the “social visibility” aspect of Pride to a more “Coachella” type music festival.

(via press release)

James Corden Goes Bear Hunting At LA Pride

Absolutely hysterical. How far we’ve come 🙂

James Corden of The Late Late Show goes to L.A. Pride and determines he wants to be the Grand Marshall next year. For some reason this leads him on a “bear hunt.”

Ultimately, he finds assembles a “pack” and plays “musical bears.” I know, makes no sense but still it’s fun.

Corden keeps coming up with segments that are fun and pro-everyone. The fact that he does this without coming across the least bit homophobic is great.