More than 50 years of LA Pride Parades: How it all started

The gay rights movement started on June 28th, 1969, when the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City was raided by police and the patrons fought back. It became known as the ‘Stonewall Uprising’ which lasted several days. As a result, people began joining The Gay Liberation Front which helped organize the first Pride Parade held a year later in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York

Karla Jay, a longtime feminist and queer activist says, "We couldn't advertise in newspapers; they wouldn't print the word, 'gay.' It was considered a dirty word. We had very few opportunities to organize and have a life the way we wanted it."

The first Pride Parade on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood on June 28th, 1970, almost didn’t happen because the LAPD Chief at the time, Ed Davis, refused to grant a permit to the gay community. Jay says, "He said to us that if he gave us a permit, that next, he was going to have to give a permit to quote, ‘Burglars and Thieves,’ unquote, to march the following week."

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When the ACLU stepped in, the injunction against the Pride Parade was lifted just in time. In LA, a little more than a thousand people marched for their rights. LGBTQ Historian Lillian Faderman, says, "I did go to the first Pride Parade in Los Angeles in 1970. And for me, that was an incredible experience. I was not in the parade; I was on the sidelines with apparently 50,000 other people."

Jay did march that day, and she remembers feeling uneasy. "We really didn't know what would happen to us, we didn't know if someone on the sideline was going to throw a bottle, if someone would throw a bomb, but I always said to myself, 'If I'm afraid and I don't do something, then the other side's gonna win,'" she said.


Both Jay and Faderman are proud of their work in the gay rights movement. But they insist LGBTQ people must continue fighting for their rights. "How fragile that progress could be if we're not constantly alert and we see it, I think in the various threats around the country in Florida for instance, and Texas. It really does take constant vigilance, even though we've made this huge progress, it can easily be taken away from us," says Faderman. 

The 52nd annual LA Pride Parade will be held on Sunday, June 12, 2022.