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Gay Pride Parade Photos

Gay Pride Parades

The world’s first actual gay pride parade that commemmorated the Stonewall riots a year earlier in New York city rolled along Hollywood Boulevard in June 28, 1970, attended by some 50,000 onlookers. The procession was officially sanctioned by the City of Los Angeles, but not without CSW founders duking it out with a homophobic L.A. Police Department (LAPD) to secure a parade permit. New York and other cities held unofficial “marches” but L.A. was the first city to have a police-approved event with a parade permit along with police protection.

Hollywood Gay Pride Parade photo

Parade Photos

In 1975 and 1977, Bruce Torrence, owner of hollywoodphotographs.com website, took scores of photographs of the 1975 and 1977 Gay Pride Parades. All these photos are available for purchase.  The parade route for both parades started at Vine St. and traveled west, on Hollywood Blvd., to La Brea Ave.

Parade organizers were led by the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches; Morris Kight, founder of the Gay Liberation Front and Reverend Bob Humphries, founder of the United States Mission, a gay welfare organization.

vintage photo of Hollywood Gay Parade

LAPD

According to first-hand accounts of the first appearance before the L.A. Police Commission, Police Chief Ed Davis began by asking, “Did you know homosexuality is illegal in the State of California?” After a short debate over the issue, the chief made his position even more clear. “Well, I want to tell you something. As far as I’m concerned, granting a parade 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.”

Great photo of Hollywood Gay Pride Parade

A commission member added, “There’ll be violence in the streets.” The commission decided to grant a parade permit but only if the gays could post two bonds, one for $1 million and another for $500,000. A minimum requirement of 3,000 people marching in the parade was imposed, or else the parade would have to proceed on sidewalks.

Thanks to the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, all conditions were dropped, except for a requirement to pay $1,500 for police protection. Even that requirement was voided by the California Supreme Court, which forced the LAPD to provide the gay parade the same protection at no cost as it did all other similar marches.

Great photo of Hollywood Gay Pride Parade

Parade Spectators

Rev. Perry estimated some 50,000 people watched the parade from Hollywood’s sidewalks – a tremendous beginning. The 1970 parade’s success immediately led to talk of making it an annual event. Entries the next two years caused controversies, and disagreements within the steering committee led to no parade being held in 1973. It continued annually after that on Hollywood Boulevard through 1978, but CSW moved it to West Hollywood in 1979 because of skirmishes between gay activists and the LAPD, as well as steadily increasing crowds.

In addition to controversies, another staple of LA Pride has been widely varying estimates of crowd size. Parade organizers believed an accurate headcount was derived by tripling whatever “official” figure was provided by LAPD or the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

Historical photo of Hollywood Gay Pride parade

In 1985, for example, news media reported the West Hollywood parade “drew between 50,000 and 150,000 well-mannered spectators.” The smaller crowd estimate came from a sheriff’s spokesman based upon surveillance by a deputy from a helicopter; the larger from event organizers, who said the sheriff’s figure was “not believable.” Nobody argued that over the 80,000 people were said to have attended the festival that year.

By any measure, the parade was a huge success and grew substantially every year. By 1989, the official crowd size was placed at more than 200,000, with some 10,000 in the parade itself along with 257 floats and contingents.

The crowd size rose to about 300,000 spectators in 1990 with some 300 groups in the parade. An additional 60,000 people attended the parade the following year, according to press reports, reaching a whopping 400,000 for 1995’s parade.

Vintage Hollywood Photos

The largest collection of Gay Pride Parade photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website..

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