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Resist March replaces LA Pride Parade — and some resist the change

Police stand by to provide security for the 2016 Gay Pride Parade June 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Police stand by to provide security for the 2016 Gay Pride Parade June 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

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June is Pride Month, and one of the marquee events is the parade where people line the streets of West Hollywood to watch floats, dancers and celebrities go by.

But this year, the tone of the celebration is shifting from pride to protest.

"We’ve converted the parade, floats and fun to a march for civil rights," says Brian Pendleton, organizer of what's now called the Resist March on Sunday, June 11th.

Instead of staying within the boundaries of West Hollywood, like parades in past years, this time it’s starting off at Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave.

"It’s where The Oscars happen now and, serendipitously, that’s where LA Pride was born in 1970," he says. One of the world's first LGBT Pride marches took place at the same location.

People will weave through Hollywood before ending at the LA Pride Festival grounds in West Hollywood.

The Resist March is in coordination with protests in more than 50 cities around the world, all taking place under the banner, "Equality March for Unity and Pride."

"You have the science march, the climate march, the women’s march, the immigration march," says Anika Simpson, co-organizer of the international effort. "I feel a sense of solidarity across these groups."

And Pendleton thinks the Resist March is taking the baton.

"We’re lending our giant iconic rainbow flag not just to the LGBTQ community, but to anyone who feels threatened," he says.

Some people are raining on the parade march 

Major sponsors who’ve supported the LA Pride Parade in the past, like Nissan and Skyy Vodka, have bailed on the Resist March.

Wells Fargo was a longtime one, too, and a spokesman says it would have backed a parade. But as a policy, it won’t sponsor political or partisan rallies.

Pendleton is unaffected, and says he didn't want to reach out to companies about sponsorship, either.

"I think people would find that rather dubious and wonder if their messaging has been co-opted by corporate America," he says.

That sentiment is shared by transwoman Drian Juarez, who grew increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of branding and sponsorships at past Pride events.

"For me it’s not about these corporations usurping our movement," she says. "For me, the Resist March is really about coming back to our roots."

Then there are others who are resisting the Resist March because they’re conservative.

"It’s just very disappointing to me," says Matthew Craffey, head of the LA chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT group. "I feel this is the one weekend a year we really can put the politics aside."

He says that the Pride Parade welcomed everyone in the LGBT community, including conservatives. But Craffey is skeptical that he'd be greeted with open arms at the Resist March, even if organizers say the event isn't partisan.

"There’s no doubt in my mind it’ll be anti-Republican," he says. "Resist marches across the country have a pretty focused target and that is the Trump administration."

Craffey also argues that Trump, himself, has not done anything to rollback LGBT rights.

"There’s been a lot of panic about what President Trump might do," he says. "I would just say this: We still have the right to marry; we still have all the rights when he came into office we had."

Resist, but resist what?

Others are unclear about the march's goal.

Oliver Alpulche owns Redline, a gay bar in downtown LA. He leans more liberal but wants more direction about what he should be protesting against.

"What are the points that are going to resonate with the entire LGBTQ community to say, 'This is what we stand for and this is why we’re basically giving up the Pride Parade?'" he asks.

Plus, Alpuche believes organizers have not been clear in their messaging about what should happen when the Resist March ends.

"Doing a march and ending at the Pride Festival, is it to just get people to filter down into the Festival?" he wonders. "If no one knows what to do afterwards, the next day people are just going to move on to the next topic of conversation. When do we stop becoming activists and when do we start becoming leaders?"

But the leader of LA’s Resist March, Brian Pendleton, believes the event is taking a page from LGBT history to face the future of American politics.

"This idea that we’re getting back to our roots as a protest organization rather than as a parading organization felt right," he says.

And Pendleton hopes that when people participate in a march to resist, they can walk away proud.