ACLU fought for historic Pride parade in 1970 and continues to fight today

ACLU SoCal will celebrate 100 years fighting for LGBTQ+ rights as the community grand marshal of the LA Pride Parade on June 11.

ByChristiane Cordero KTRK logo
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
ACLU fought for historic 1970 Pride parade and continues to fight
The ACLU SoCal will celebrate 100 years fighting for LGBTQ+ rights as the community grand marshal of the #LAPride Parade on June 11.

LOS ANGELES -- In 1970, everyday photography was switching to full color, much like the world around it.

The world's first officially-permitted LGBTQ+ Pride Parade happened in Hollywood that year after a hard fought battle in court.

"That first effort in L.A. in 1970 was met immediately with retribution from cops who wanted to prevent it from happening, and rather than ban the parade outright, they tried to impose ridiculous conditions that would've been impossible to meet," said Amanda Goad, the Audrey Irmas director of the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California. "ACLU lawyers helped with taking that to court and getting rid of those unfair conditions. They weren't being imposed on any other parade so that was discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and getting that worked out allowed the parade to go forward."

And it has ever since, which is not how this story ends.

"The history of LGBTQ civil rights, like many other movements, it was a lot of steps forward and a lot of steps back at the same time," said Goad.

Half a century later, the LGBTQ+ community, the ACLU and the police share a delicate stage around an L.A. Pride parade that remains, at its core, a protest.

A protest that today, several police departments participate in, at times with queer people in uniform, marching the route.

"There are queer people everywhere, in every institution and every employer," said Goad. "Pride is still protest, and to me, it's still largely a protest of the way our community has been targeted by police. Everybody has rights to free expression and association. That's an issue we've been working on at ACLU SoCal for 100 years but when the police are there, we are going to have a lot to say about it."

The ACLU SoCal is working on many other issues, even today - especially today. Anti-trans legislation in other states has fueled rhetoric in California.

The June 2 protest at North Hollywood's Saticoy Elementary School is just one example.

READ MORE | Protesters, counter-protesters gather outside NoHo elementary school to protest LGBTQ book reading

The reading of the book "The Great Big Book of Families" during a Pride Month assembly at a North Hollywood elementary school sparked a sometimes heated confrontation between protesters and counter-protesters outside the school on Friday.

"We have done so much work in California around youth and schools because if people learn at a young age that LGBTQ folks exist, it kind of helps with making that seem real, and not just an abstract concept to be afraid of," said Goad.

The ACLU SoCal will celebrate 100 years fighting for LGBTQ+ rights as the community grand marshal of the L.A. Pride Parade on June 11.