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World's First Permitted LGBTQ Pride Parade

First Gay Pride Parade, Hollywood, 1970

Gay Pride Parade, Los Angeles, 1970. Photo from Advocate.

The first L.A. Pride Parade (originally Gay Pride Parade), organized by Rev. Bob Humphries (founder, United States Mission), Morris Kight (founder, Gay Liberation Front) and Rev. Troy Perry (founder, Metropolitan Community Church) and the Christopher Street West Association, was held on June 28, 1970 in Los Angeles. The parade started at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place in Hollywood and ran along Hollywood Boulevard in front of an estimated 50,000 spectators. The Los Angeles parade was held simultaneously with events in New York, Chicago and San Francisco to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising in New York that had occurred a year earlier. However, unlike the events in other cities that were simply marches and rallies, the L.A. event was an officially-permitted parade.

L.A.'s Gay Pride Parade permit did not come easily. No city had, until that time, ever experienced thousands of LGBTQ people marching openly and LAPD Chief Edward Davis did not hesitate to remind organizers that homosexuality was still illegal in California. Rev. Perry recounted that Davis declared to them, “As far as I’m concerned, granting a permit to a group of homosexuals to parade down Hollywood Boulevard would be the same as giving a permit to a group of thieves and robbers.”

Also see: LGBTQ History Made in Los Angeles: Cooper Do-Nuts & the Black Cat Tavern.

The Los Angeles Police Commission, for their part, claiming to fear violent homophobic counter-reactions, imposed excessive permit requirements, such as $1.5 million in fees. Parade organizers and the ACLU challenged the city in court, taking their fight all the way to the California Supreme Court. The court ended up ordering the city to issue a parade permit without discriminatory add-ons. L.A.’s Gay Pride Parade became the world’s first officially-permitted parade advocating for LGBTQ rights. The parade was moved from Hollywood in Los Angeles to West Hollywood in 1979.

Marchers in the Gay Pride Parade, Hollywood, 1977

Marchers in the Gay Pride Parade (now L.A. Pride Parade) in Hollywood, 1977. Photo by Boris Yaro from Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA Digital Library.

Family and Friends March in Gay Pride Parade, West Hollywood, 1983

Family and friends march with LGBTQ loved ones in the Gay Pride Parade (now L.A. Pride Parade) in West Hollywood, 1983. Photo from Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA Digital Library.