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Organizer of Black Cat Protests Will Be L.A. Pride Grand Marshal

Alexei Romanoff
From left: Alexei Romanoff with unidentified Los Angeles police officer and Mayor Eric Garcetti at the Black Cat anniversary rally

Alexei Romanoff helped organize the 1967 protests of a police raid on the Los Angeles gay bar.

Veteran Los Angeles activist Alexei Romanoff, an organizer of protests at the city's Black Cat bar in 1967, will be grand marshal of this year's L.A. Pride.

The choice of Romanoff is in keeping with the tone of this year's L.A. Pride, which will feature a protest march, the ResistMarch, instead of the usual parade and a smaller festival space, organizers said. He will participate in the march and festival, and will be featured, along with other activists, in L.A. Pride's "Own Your Pride" marketing campaign, which launched today.

"This year's L.A. Pride experience will be different from what we've seen over the past few years," said Chris Classen, president of the board of Christopher Street West, which produces the annual celebration, in a press release. "So our campaign needed to be different, too. We are committed to honoring our community's rich history of activism by encouraging everyone to own their pride this year. Our choice for the 2017 L.A. Pride grand marshal was easy. Alexei is a renowned activist, a champion of human rights, a longtime L.A. Pride supporter, and our friend. He represents the very best of what our community stands for as well as what it can be."

Activists protested at the Black Cat, then a gay bar in Los Angeles's Silver Lake neighborhood, for several days in early 1967 after a New Year's Eve police raid on the club. A newsletter started by the protest group evolved into The Advocate.

Romanoff appeared at a rally observing the 50th anniversary of the protests in February at the site, which is now a restaurant and bar, not specifically gay, but still using the Black Cat name.

"The spirit is still here," he told the crowd. "And I'm depending on all of you to go on and carry this forward."

Born in Ukraine, Romanoff immigrated to the U.S. during World War II and came to Los Angeles in 1958. He founded several LGBT organizations, including the Santa Monica Bay Coalition for Human Rights and the Avatar Club of Los Angeles, and fought for AIDS research and assistance for people with the disease.

The ResistMarch will begin at 8 a.m. June 11, stepping off from Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles and ending at West Hollywood Park; find more information here. There will also be LGBT protest marches in Washington, D.C., and numerous other cities that day. The "Own Your Pride" campaign includes videos of several Angelenos sharing their experiences and what Pride means to them. Go here for more information.

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