The crowd was lively and full of color on a June Gloom Sunday. Thousands gathered at Hollywood and Highland on June 11, filling the usually tourist street with local excitement, decorated in rainbow clothing, and carrying flags and signs addressing intersectional issues: immigration, women’s rights, queer equality, and, of course, promoting love.
Los Angeles’ Resist March, replacing the traditional annual Gay Pride parade, was a different celebration of diversity this year.
One noticeable difference was the support for the transgender community. This is the first march I have been to where I heard chants in support of the transgender community: “Trans Lives Matter!” they yelled. “Black Trans Lives Matter!”
Something else worth noticing was the multiple Valley agencies that had arrived to join the protest.
Somos Familia Valle, a grassroots LGBTQ organization based in the San Fernando Valley, marched along the Hollywood and Highland to West Hollywood route with a contingent of 32 members. Previously, most of their efforts have been centered in the Valley.
“Although our focus is in the San Fernando Valley, Somos Familia Valle is connected to LA, the country, and the world,” said Executive Director Ronnie Veliz.
For some of their members, it was their first time participating in a Pride march. Alexandra Casanovas, 20, from Sherman Oaks said she marched because she felt her multiple identities — as a woman, immigrant, and member of the LGBTQ community — were under attack.
“I am proud that I was part of a historical march to resist fascism, misogyny, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, deportations, and mass incarceration of people of color,” she said. “I felt so empowered, present, and humbled to march with my Valley peers around me.
“I’ll remember every chant we shared and everyone I met at this march for the rest of my life. I am grateful to be part of something bigger than myself.”
Northeast Valley Health Corporation — a public health organization that serves nearly 70,000 patients, many of them uninsured, low-income, and undocumented in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys — showed up with its own contingent of staff members, carrying signs reading “Save HIV Care” and “NEVHC Supports Health Care for All.”
“There is so much at stake – our lives, our community’s health – and our livelihood, jobs, and economy, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed,” said NEVHC Government and Community Relations Manager, Saaliha Khan. “If there is a repeal od the ACA, there would be at least 15,000 NEVHC patients that may lose coverage.”
This was the first time the agency participated in a Gay Pride event.
The City of San Fernando also contributed to the efforts, providing a bus for transportation to the march.
It was a beautiful and historic event to attend, with much diversity and intersectionality evident throughout the march. Their chants were true: “When our communities are under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!”