DTLA Proud Festival – Integrating the Downtown and LGBT Renaissance
A native Angeleno and founder of Los Angeles and 6th Street’s Redline Gay Bar and Lounge, Oliver Alpuche has always admired Downtown, for the “the architecture, the people, the community, [and] the history.” But while it may come as a surprise to many, downtown Los Angeles also shares a pioneering role in the struggle for LGBT equality. “The first documented riots were at Cooper’s Donuts, which is right in between 4th and 5th streets, that actually predate Stonewall” Alpuche asserts, citing the 1959 protests carried out be transgender women, drag queens, and gays in one of the country’s original queer gathering spaces.
Considered as an up-and-coming neighborhood for quite some time, it was only natural for the resurgence of the local LGBT community to follow suit in the burgeoning DTLA renaissance. Precinct Rock & Roll Gay Bar, Bar Mattachine, and Redline have opened their doors in the past year alone, joining the The New Jalisco Bar in the suddenly thriving downtown gay nightlife scene. For the first time in recent memory, both the local and LGBT communities of downtown are uniting to showcase their partnership in the upcoming DTLA Proud Festival, hosted in the landmark Pershing Square Park on Sunday, August 7.
“The LGBT community does have its roots in downtown, and we’re trying to get back to that,” notes Alpuche, but “it’s bigger than just us. The people that live downtown are so passionate about downtown and love the uniqueness of it, the renaissance of it, the opportunities that are down here for small businesses to grow. We wanted to celebrate what was happening downtown,” so “we all came together [to] celebrate the community we’re in and what DTLA has to offer.”
The DTLA Proud festivities take place on Sunday, August 7 at noon and run until ten in the evening, with a full day of performances and activities planned. Half the venue will be a mainstage featuring headlining acts from all the local bars, all hosted by Masters of Ceremonies and Precinct mainstays, the Boulet Brothers. “Every amazing event that happens downtown will be showcased in this festival- using what’s already programmed here in the nightlife and putting it one day,” including sets by DJ Cazell, Josh Peace with High Fashion, the gay Latino rapper Deadly, and legendary drag artists Jackie Beat, Calpernia Addams, and Pandora Boxx.
The other side of the square will host a rebirth of Summertramp, the original, queer waterpark oasis, complete with blow-up waterslides and pools. Alongside the fun in the sun will be community booths incorporating local businesses and LGBT organizations, including the Trans Latin@ Coalition, The Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Bienestar among the lengthy list of partners and sponsors. Tickets can be purchased online or at the festival for ten dollars, with the five dollar early bird price expiring this past week.
With a slew of recent LGBT celebrations around southern California, Alpuche is quick to iterate that “we are not pride. [We are] completely different than pride- we are so proud and everyone that’s involved is so proud to live down here and be a part of it and we want to showcase our community to the greater Los Angeles area and the LGBT community, all [tying] back to what’s happening downtown, incorporating the different cultures and the diversity that is down here and celebrating that.”
When broaching the future of DTLA Proud and the growth of the LGBT community downtown, Alpuche affirms that “there is so much more in store for us that we can do. We would love to grow it and really showcase it as a yearly thing. Our goal is to have it be a free event for all- we can make it bigger and better, partnering with a lot of the community groups in order to fundraise and provide meeting spaces for events,” and “we can find out what people want” to shape the future programming to come.
Los Angeles has always been a hub for LGBT individuals, but it has often felt confined to the traditional gayborhoods of West Hollywood. But with the growing support and acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender men and women in our country and our city, Alpuche believes “it is time to integrate versus segregate. For so long the only place that the LGBT community really felt safe was in West Hollywood, to hold hands, to kiss in public, and to just be themselves. It’s time to step out of the bubble and be okay to hold hands and kiss and be comfortable anywhere you live.”
To learn more about the complete festival lineup and purchase tickets for DTLA Proud, visit DTLAproudfestival.org, (that’s DTLA Proud Festival dot org!) and be sure to keep up to date on social media at facebook.com/DTLAProudFestival, and on instagram and twitter @DTLAProud.