This article was published on May 24th, 2017
LA Pride has announced major changes to this year’s pride festivities and have named an immigrant as Grand Marshall of this year’s gay pride. In concurrence with the National Equality March, this year’s LA Pride parade will be changed to a protest march through the heart of Hollywood to West Hollywood, the gayest city in America. Pride organizers have named activist, immigrant, and long-time LGBTQA rights support Alexei Romanov as Grand Marshall of this year’s pride.
This being the 47 year of open gay pride marches and parades, LA Pride organizers looked back to the history of gay pride and rights in Los Angeles, and naming Romanov as Grand Marshall was an easy choice and perfect fit for the position. Romanov was part of protest and activism in the wake of the Black Cat Police raids in 1967, two years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Hundreds gathered to protest police brutality and harassment of gay people simply drinking and gathering at the Black Cat, one of the few gay bars in LA at the time. Romanov was one such activist and protestor, and their activism helped propel the gay rights movement in Los Angeles and the United States forward.
An immigrant who came to the US during World War II, Romanov was born in Ukraine and moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Quickly finding acceptance in the queer leather and activist communities, his involvement with LGBT activism landed him in jail one more than one occasion for public lewdness after having organized several protests against the police brutality of the time.
“I have marched alongside the community in solidarity ever since the first LA Pride Parade 47 years ago, and will do so as long as I live,” says Romanov. “I have spent a majority of my life fighting for equality and standing up for the unalienable rights of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Mr. Romanov has founded many LGBT activist groups in and around Los Angeles, including the Avatar Club of Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Bay Coalition for Human Rights. He has also been, since the height of the AIDS crisis, a long-time advocate for AIDS patient rights, healthcare, research, and assistance programs.
In the wake of the Trump administration’s firm stance against LGBT rights, many cities across the United States are scraping plans for parades and turning Pride events into protest marches countering the current administration. Organizers of Pride are celebrating the right to gather and protest by organizing a resist march through the center of Los Angeles.