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The 2008 Independence Day holiday weekend marks the 20th anniversary for Los Angeles’ Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride best known as At the Beach Los Angeles Black Pride. While you may not ever read about in the Los Angeles Times or see it on the evening news, the Los Angeles Black Pride annual beach party celebration at Point Dume in Malibu is one of the most anticipated events of the years for Los Angeles’ Black gay community that rarely sees itself reflected in the June pride celebration in West Hollywood.

ATB was co-founded in part by Duane Bremond, who passed away in 2003 after following in the footsteps of his father community activist Walter Bremond, founder of The Brotherhood Crusade/Black United Fund. ATB organizers saw a need for a strong social base in the African-American gay community. Out of that idea and a small gathering of friends at Malibu Beach grew an entire organization and one of the most highly attended Black gay pride celebrations in the country.

Black gay prides started in the 80s in large part because a lot of the gay pride events were overwhelmingly white and for the most part they still are. As Black lesbians and gays we wanted to celebrate not only our sexual orientation and identity but our race and cultural heritage as well. Plainly put, that wasn’t going to happen in West Hollywood.

However, with that said, it is still a Black event taking place in a predominantly white part of town. A town that for the past several years hasn’t been too keen on thousands of Black bodies ascending upon it’s beaches on a holiday weekend and finally found a way in an effort to move the celebration from Malibu this year.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, in cahoots with the City of Malibu, has at the last minute issued a new “special condition,” a 200 percent increase in fees to the tune of $18,000 and a reduction in the hours and operation of Pride, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this year. They are claiming this is needed because of an incident that occurred last year, an incident in which the Sheriff’s are claiming a gun was brandished and a near riot erupted.

However, I was there last year and I don’t recall all of that going down. I’m just saying, there maybe a bit of exaggeration on the part of the Sheriff’s Department to the benefit of the City of Malibu.

I’m not surprised though. It’s no secret that over the years, Black Pride participants have consistently and quietly dealt with the harassment and the racism from the Sheriff’s office including having their cars were towed, getting ticketed, and unwarranted searches.

I have very mixed feelings about the whole situation, but I’m clear that if this were a different gay pride celebration, that this would not be happening. But it’s not, it’s Black gay pride.

I am still going to the beach on Saturday, camcorder in hand, and I wish a deputy would tell me to get off of a free beach.

First there’s the great restroom scandal at the Beverly Hills Hotel where a Black lesbian would forced out of the women’s restroom after being mistaken for a man, then weeks of television news reports featuring lily white couples getting married, followed by the over sensationalized and sad tragic story involving two lesbians accused of abusing and torturing a 5-year-old boy, and now no Black pride beach party.

We know it’s no easy task to be Black, but being Black and gay isn’t any better at times.

Jasmyne Cannick n is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. A regular contributor to NPR’s ‘News and Notes,’ she was chosen as one Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com or www.myspace.com/jasmynecannick.



 

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