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Viva La Vida :: Long Beach Pride 2017 - 34 Years and Counting

by Joel Martens
Wednesday May 17, 2017

Established in October of 1983, Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc.(LBLGC), produced the first annual Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival and Parade in June of 1984. The event was conceived out of a growing
need to "Increase awareness and to promote Pride and a greater sense of self-worth within the community," as well as working to "facilitate greater cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between the lesbian and gay community and the community of Long Beach."

Visibility has always been the key to moving beyond the shadows and the darkness of those closets we'd been forced to hide in. We and those before us, fought hard to "come out" into the light and have generations of men and women to thank for it. Precious little is known of our early leaders, the ones who took the earliest and greatest risks publicly, so as to ensure we would eventually be free of the burdens they faced. People like Henry Gerber who in 1924, founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago and Harry Hay, who established The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization in 1951.

Women such as Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who along with four other lesbian couples, founded San Francisco's Daughters of Bilitis in 1955. José Sarria, the founder of the Imperial Court System, who in 1961 became the first openly gay candidate for office, running and winning a place
on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Leonard Matlovich, the Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who became the first service member to out himself to the military in 1975.

Activist Christine Jorgenson, the first trans woman widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery in the early 1950s and Sylvia Rivera, another transgender activist, founded the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. These are just a few of the brave souls, who through their strength and fortitude, were willing to break the bonds of bigotry. They opened those early closet doors and planted the seeds of freedom, creating a movement and establishing guidelines that would
prepare for the coming fights we would face.

Times have certainly changed since then and we have achieved much, yet it's interesting to note that some of the challenges we face, in this current political climate, have familiar echoes of the homophobia once commonly imposed on the LGBT community. That is why, it is still just as important now as it was back then to remain visible and to show the world we are a united front. Pride events, though to some seem frivolous, are one of the best places to do that. Celebrations that offer a place to show our unity, to recognize community, sing its praises and to bask in the freedoms we now enjoy, and to remember that though we have achieved much, there is still work to do.

In the spirit of those who began the fight and continue to do so, all the gains we've made and as illustrated through the theme Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride organizer's have chosen, it's time to celebrate: Viva La Vida: Here's to Life!

Here are some of the highlights of this year's festival, parade and the exciting events to come:

Saturday and Sunday, May 20 & 21
Marina Green Park

There's a seemingly endless parade of top-notch performers at this year's festival. For the first time in its history, Long Beach Pride with offer headliners on each of their stages. Denise Newman, President of Long
Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride says of this year's lineup,"We truly want to provide an environment for the community to come together and celebrate our eclectic blend of cultures, as well as cultivate inclusiveness at every level."

Saturday, May 20: Main Stage Headliner ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan

Sunday, May 21: Main Stage Headliner Jody Watley and SRL to close out the weekend.

Saturday, May 20: Headliner Monica, as well as, hip-hop recording artist Mann.
Sunday, May 21: Rapper Taylor Bennett and Bre-Z, from the hit show "Empire."

2017 is the 20-year anniversary of the Fiesta Caliente stage and there has never been a stage lineup like this one!

Saturday, May 20: Kat Deluna, Amanda Miguel, Sonora Tropicana and La Chiqui Baby

Sunday, May 21: Ana Victoria, the Selena Tribute Band, Maria Jose and Mariana Seoane.

Saturday, May 20: Headliner Honey County will be performing.

Sunday, May 21: Headliner Ty Herndon will be the featured artist.

Saturday, May 20: Mike Bryant will be headlining.

Sunday, May 21: Angie Vee and Ashley Thrasher spin as the headliners.

Sunday, May 21 - Step-off at 10:30 am

Parade events kick off an hour before the parade at 9:30 a.m. at Bixby Park, located on Ocean Boulevard at Cherry Avenue. Look for special presentation by Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride, California Senator Ricardo Lara, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce- District 2, and a special performance by the MenAlive Chorus.

This year's pre-parade show is in honor of the Orlando 49 and
will be hosted by Jewels, who will be the on-the-street gal all day.

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