With initial goal to ‘break shackles of oppression,’ Long Beach Pride Fest now draws 80,000

With its beginnings in 1983, the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival now attracts more than 80,000 revelers a year.
The mission in that first year, in the words of Pride co-founder Bob Crow, was simple– “To break the shackles of the oppression of homophobia in the community and the general population.” And despite uphill battles, which included a disapproving City Council, a deficiency of funds, and a lack of widespread support, they pushed on. Ultimately all ended well, with Crow, Marilyn Barlow, Judith Doyle, JC Cree, and Fern Williamson– the original creators of the festival– witnessing what would become one of the largest events in Long Beach, thanks to none other than a straight ally.
Then-owner of the bar Executive Suite, Fred Kovell, heard of the City’s “stringent fees, harsh deposit requirements, lack of political support,” and he opened his wallet so the event could take place, with Long Beach Pride born on June of 1984 under rainclouds, according to LBLGP, Inc.
It is in this spirit that Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride (LBLGP), the organization that oversees the official launch of Pride Weekend throughout Long Beach on May 18 and 19, opted to keep the theme to this year’s celebration simple, to the point, and in honor of that history– “30 Years Proud!”
The centerpieces of Pride will be the festival, which spans both days, and the parade, which occurs on Sunday morning along Ocean Boulevard.
“We embrace change,” said LBLGP co-president Kimberly Maddox, “but realize that we must also remember the past in order to fight for equal rights and be role models for our future leaders.”

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Source: LBLGP, Inc.

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