Rainbow flags, festive clothing, nuns dressed in drag and plenty of non-stop dancing and music fill Long Beach this weekend at the 28th annual Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival & Parade.
The first parade was held in 1984 by advocates who believed the event was needed to instill awareness of and self-worth within Long Beach's sizable LGBT community. The first couple years were rough financially, but Long Beach Pride has grown to become the nation's third largest, attracting more than 75,000 participants over the two-day celebration.
Indeed, Pride Week, as it is now known, kicked off April 30 with the third annual Draglicious performances at Cal State Long Beach and continued through the first couple weeks of May with a Long Beach Museum of Art gala featuring Mayor Bob Foster, the Mr. and Mrs. Gay Pride contests and other special shows and educational programs aimed at people of all ages and genders.
A Teen Pride Festival overtakes the Rainbow Lagoon area at 4 this afternoon. Music fills the evening air with a free concert at Bixby Park, an urban showcase at Cafe Ambrosia and the fourth annual "Pink Party" outdoor dance extravaganza at the Pike (Pine Avenue and Shoreline Drive).
Pride organizers and California Families in Focus welcome GLBTQ families to a Family Fun Zone at Rainbow Lagoon from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Jumpers, carnival games, karaoke, trackless train ride, face painting, puppet shows, magic shows, clowns, balloon animals, arts & crafts and more activities appropriate for children ages 15 and younger will be on tap.
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Adult activities include the festival at Rainbow Lagoon Saturday evening with musical performances on a main stage from the likes of Monica, Abraham McDonald, Sophie Hawkins and Sunny Daye. Several other treats--musical, dance and otherwise--are part of the fun.
Besides the fests, Sunday marks the always entertaining Pride Parade. Arrive at Bixby Park an hour before the 10:30 a.m. start time for great beats from DJ Zenway, prizes like free admission to to day's festival and, of course, a sweet spot from which to scope out the parade.
Yes, of course, that means the return of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Visit LongBeachPride.com for more details on these and several other activities.