It comes down to semantics—but officially, Los Angeles had the first gay pride parade in the country. New York City and Chicago both held protest marches in June 1970 to observe the first anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, but only L.A. called its June 28, 1970, gathering a parade and asked the police department for a permit (which organizers were begrudgingly granted).
A lot has changed with the parade in the past 40 years—most notably its size and the location; what started at a Hollywood corner better known for hookers and dealers long ago moved to West Hollywood, an independent city better known for hot pants and dancing.
But as officials of Christopher Street West, which puts together all the events that now constitute Los Angeles Pride, kick off the 40th anniversary celebration, they plan to take it back to its roots. On June 1, CSW president Rodney Scott and the Reverend Troy Perry, the last living organizer of the first parade, will lay flowers at the bronze plaque marking the starting point of the 1970 event. Later, Perry will host a CSW-sponsored party at Triangle Square, the three-year-old gay senior apartment complex just seven blocks east of there. “There are residents of Triangle Square who were at the first parade,” Scott says.
First is the only difference between protest and parade, but it’s a distinction that makes all the difference in the world to those who gathered openly, defiantly, and with pride on a run-down Hollywood corner 40 years ago.