Rainbows In The Street
A look into the West Hollywood Pride 2022 Parade
Written by: Dahyun Kim and Edited by Sean Donahue
Los Angeles is full of colorful rainbows as we celebrate Pride month. We gather to support and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and honor those who have committed their life’s work towards liberation, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Harvey Milk. We’re thankful to the city of West Hollywood, the so-called, “gayborhood”, for giving us a safe space to freely celebrate. However, as our history shows, being queer wasn’t as easy as it can be today. We would like to share some of the current warriors, friends, and family that stand up and speak out proudly this month in LA.
Ellie Hardin and Avery Viera
For Avery, growing up in San Fernando Valley was difficult as there wasn’t much of an LGBTQ+ community there to support her. Avery says, “The LGBTQ community is shunned and not allowed to be, so I often felt like I had to be the person they wanted me to be.” After coming out, Avery mother was accepting, but her father still refuses to accept her today. Sadly, this difficulty within family dynamics is one that many queer folks face. Avery told us that it’s even more hurtful now that the rest of her family are shutting her and her mother out because of this. Avery states, “It sucks and it hurts, but it’s kind of just life, you know? I got used to being without them.”
Pride for her is all about loving, accepting, and being yourself around a community that fosters that energy. Avery hopes that other parts of LA can also host events like this and push for engaging conversations around self-discovery.
Ellie, Avery’s partner, was born and raised in Alabama. After meeting through a queer dating app, several flights between states and many long conversations on the phone, Ellie decided to move to LA to be with Avery.
Being from a small town in Alabama, Ellie knew the same people from her school until she was 18 yrs old. Living in a conservative town, forced her to be really cautious about who she could let in and open up with. “Even putting stickers on your car can be dangerous sometimes because people will follow you or try to attack you. I had to pick and choose who I could share with.” LA has given her the support network within the queer community and feels that no one is going to judge or disagree with who she is.
Los Angeles has been a safe haven for her and Avery to allow their love to grow, while also allowing their individual selves to grow with it.
When Jolie Santos was 17 years old, she moved to LA from Sacramento with her dream of becoming a filmmaker. She said, “I don’t think there are enough queer women in the industry. I want to be a director and I’m going to do it.” She thinks she’s been lucky to have met people and feels at home in LA, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Because of this, she wants to share this love with other communities as she knows we’re all connected. “I think a lot of the unhoused population of LA really needs some help, they’re just trying to make a life for themselves. We need to pay attention to our brothers and sisters that may be struggling.” Around 40% of unhoused youth (18–24) in LA are apart of the LGBTQ+ Community, so Jolie’s sentiment is very true.
“I was actually nervous to wear this outfit today, but I was telling myself this is what I want to wear and this is what I want to do.” She looked at the parade and said, “Everyone is a superhero here. They just get to truly be themselves, it’s probably the best event I’ve ever been to.”
Jolie believes that every pride will make it easier for the younger generations, and hopes that they won’t have to go through what they’ve gone through. She is here to make sure that the LGBTQ+ Community is seen and heard by everyone.
Vivian Karan Brown and Vikki Karan
One day at school, Vivian had a crush on her girlfriend. After realizing she could actually have feelings for a girl, she decided to share it with her mother, Vikki Karan. Luckily, Vivian has a mother who is not only understanding and supportive of her, but Vikki has been a huge ally since before Vivian was born. When Vivian came out, she was proud that she felt comfortable sharing her truth. The meaning of pride for her is for people to live their lives as their authentic selves.
As we know, there are many parents struggling to accept their children as they come out, but Vikki has a message for them. “What are you worrying about? This is your beautiful child who is being true to themselves and we should follow our children’s lead and stop thinking that this is wrong, because if they can find love, joy, warmth and be loved, then that’s the goal.” Vikki added, “I can promise you that you want your child to be loved and accepted, and not feel like what they’re doing is wrong.”
Vivian expresses that she feels a lot more energetic and confident after telling her mother because she doesn’t need to hide her personality. “I like to feel free with myself. I was very relieved to feel all the weight off my back,” she said. It’s beautiful that she can be represented and supported by her mother and by her community here.
Andrew Xin and Alron Xiao and Lucas
Andrew and Alron are from China. They moved six years ago to LA, so they could get married and live their life freely as a queer couple. Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, however, same-sex couples are still not allowed to marry or adopt children. Regardless of the country’s legal situation, social prejudice is still very difficult to deal with, they explained.
They’ve had four years with their son, Lucas. For Andrew and Alron it’s been a dream to have a family and to take care of each other, but at the same time, they’re hoping China will accept the LGBTQ+ community and their happiness in the future.
Everyone has their own struggles and victories to celebrate as they come to pride and it’s so important to remember the serious sacrifice that has allowed us to be in celebration today. Pride doesn’t happen without action and the fight isn’t over for us to be truly liberated. We need to come together with open hearts and minds towards all experiences and identities to truly be free. Happy Pride ya’ll!