Long Beach Pride Turns 40

Jon LeSage

The Long Beach Pride Festival is celebrating 40 years since its start in October 1983, which led to the launch of the first Pride Festival the following year.

The Long Beach Pride Festival this year took place Aug. 4-6, and showcased the famous Long Beach Pride parade, live music by headline artists and local favorites, three stages, food and drink, 150+ arts and crafts vendors, DJ’s and dancing, drag shows, the parade, sponsorship presence, games, giveaways, and more.

It’s the third largest Pride festival and parade in California, and it celebrates the LGBTQ+ community with a focus on inclusion. One of the objectives is to teach future generations “that the battle for acceptance continues,” the non-profit, all-volunteer organization says.

“At the heart of it all is love. Love for who we are, love for each other, and love for our community,” says the narrator in a Long Beach Pride video.

This year’s event featured live music from top artists including Mya, Laura Leon, La Diva Lucia Mendez, Edith Marquez, and more on the music and dance stages, while showcasing local artists and special community programming.

Attendees also got to see talented artists share their artistic works; along with getting a taste of unique cuisine by talented chefs at the food courts which featured dishes from local eateries as well as many festival favorites; including popular food trucks. Music fans got to experience a wide range of styles ranging from pop, rock, and hip hop, to country, jazz, Tejano, and more.

Friday, Aug. 4th was scheduled for Teen Pride, where students with school IDs could enjoy a Live DJ, performances, and dancing geared toward LGBTQ+ teens in the Long Beach area in a safe environment.

The annual weekend event benefits from having a long list of TV and radio partners, and major corporations supporting it.

The Long Beach Police Department committed to having a strong presence during that weekend to keep public safety in place – during a time when more hate crimes have been experienced by the Long Beach LGBTQ+ community.

Historic Moments Over 40 Years

Long Beach Pride was established in October 1983 when founders Judi Doyle, Marilyn Barlow and Robert Crow met at Executive Suite for the first meeting of Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride, Inc. (LBLGP, Inc.). They created a board of directors to set out the group’s mission. They felt that there was such a large gay and lesbian population that there was a need to increase awareness and to promote pride and a greater sense of self-worth within the community. Another objective was to facilitate greater cooperation, mutual respect, and understanding between the LGBTQ+ community and the community of Long Beach.

The first annual Long Beach Pride Festival & Parade took place in June 1984.

In 1987, singer Sylvester headlined the main stage. “No on Prop 64” was the Grand Marshal because the threat of restoring acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) to the list of communicable diseases was defeated on the 1986 state ballot The state ballot initiative would have restored AIDS to the list of communicable diseases; but it was defeated by a margin of 71% to 29%.

1989 – Celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a key historic event in New York City that set the modern-day gay rights movement.

1990 – The Grand Marshal was Dr. Virginia Uribe (1933-2019), an American educator who founded the LA Unified School District’s Project 10 program that offered educational support and drop-out prevention for LGBT youth.

1991 – The AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed onboard the Queen Mary.

1997 – The Festival moved from Shoreline Aquatic Park to Marina Green Park.

1998 – The Festival site expanded into the Rainbow Lagoon, adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel and Long Beach Arena. The Fiesta Caliente Stage was introduced.

2000 – The headliners were Little Richard and RuPaul.

2001 – The headliners were the Village People and Joan Jett. The Festival site was touted as one mile long, the world’s longest pride festival site; and LB Pride moved into its new facility at 1017 Obispo Avenue.

2004 – Grand Marshal: Assemblymember Alan Lowenthal, Main Stage: Eddie Money, Tiffany, and Sheena Easton. First Friday night concert with Patti LaBelle.

2009 – Grand Marshal: Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco. LB Pride’s first earthquake, a 4.7 occurred on Sunday, May 17 at 3:34 pm, rocking the festival.

2015 – Grand Marshal Honoree Mayor Robert Garcia; Headliners Salt N Pepa at Main Stage; Horoscopos de Durango and Fey at Fiesta Caliente.

2020 and 2021 – Cancelled due to COVID.

2022 – Featured a first-ever Roller Skating Ring, Drag Makeup Dome, Reload Dance Pavilion, Silent Disco Dome, Transcendence History Dome, and entertainment stages featuring Iggy Azalea, Natalia Jimenez, and Paulina Rubio.


Jon LeSage is a resident of Long Beach and a veteran business media reporter and editor. You can reach him at jtlesage1@yahoo.com.


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