New Long Beach Proud! Fest celebrates LGBTQ community with a free 3-day party starting May 19

Long Beach will host a three-day celebration, which will feature a diverse range of events, such as a multi-stage music festival and a brand new queer pride event, from May 19th to May 21st. It appears that there will indeed be a May celebration in Long Beach.

The new festival, the Long Beach Proud! Fest, is presented by LB Living–a local lifestyle publication and events organization–and Councilmember Cindy Allen.

The Pride festival in Long Beach usually occurs in the downtown area. However, it will be centralized in various locations throughout the historic “gayborhood,” which is the stretch of Broadway between Orange Street and Redondo Avenue.

LB Living founder Sal Flores stated that the decision to hold their new pride event in the gayborhood was aimed at showing support and paying tribute to the historic neighborhood. The city has initiated measures to establish the area as an LGBTQ cultural district in the previous year.

Flores stated, “it is regarding reclaiming our streets, reclaiming our community, and feeling a sense of pride in it.” Flores expressed, “There is no justification as to why we couldn’t organize our own celebration of pride in our own local area.”

Have arisen surrounding the management of the annual celebration. Some former Pride executives, as well as critics within the LGBTQ community, have pointed out that the organization has struggled in recent years to fulfill its stated mission of serving the LGBTQ community in the city. In particular, they have highlighted the challenges faced by the organization in organizing and executing the parade and festival, which have demanded significant resources.

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Despite the pandemic-induced hiatus, last year’s first-ever event on Ocean Boulevard drew enormous crowds and witnessed an outpouring of support for the LGBTQ community.

Dozens of people sit on the beach that is decorated with rainbow flags.
In this file photo: Parade participants during the 2022 Long Beach Pride Parade, along Ocean Boulevard, Sunday, July 10, 2022. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Flores, a gay man, expressed disappointment with the ongoing commercialization of major pride festivals, which often require attendees to pay upwards of $100 (Long Beach Pride typically costs between $50-$60). According to Flores, this trend ultimately excludes young, lower-income queer individuals who rely on these events for a sense of community and acceptance.

Flores stated, “It was the first time I held my boyfriend’s hand in public. And it happened in Long Beach in 2003, which was my first moment of pride.”

Flores says that now, there is an even greater urgency to create an environment that is accessible and safe for the trans and queer communities, especially with the recent increase in attacks on their rights across the country.

He stated, “That is unacceptable. Hence, that’s what genuinely compelled me to undertake this.” Numerous bills against LGBTQ rights have been proposed, and our young generation is unable to financially attend our own pride events.

LB Living’s largest organized event to date anticipates a crowd of more than 10,000 individuals. Long Beach Proud! Fest is free of charge and accessible to the general public. With that objective in mind.

“I believe it’s time to restore Pride to its true essence, which is centered around community,” Flores expressed.

Introducing the “Proud Project,” a yearly endeavor aimed at assisting Long Beach’s esteemed LGBTQ+ districts, Long Beach Proud! Fest has also commenced. In the Broadway area, the initial endeavor will involve the planting of approximately 50 trees, with the backing of Councilmember Allen, in collaboration with the upcoming festival.

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Flores stated, “It is advantageous for the community to engage in activities such as installing new flags, planting trees, and repairing the bathrooms at Bixby Park, regardless of the specific nature or significance of the undertaking.”

(Click here to view the list of businesses involved.) These wristbands will provide wearers with discounts and other exclusive offers from participating LGBTQ+ establishments from May 15-28. Individuals interested in supporting the initiative can acquire special wristbands priced at $20.

Bixby Knolls intends to bring back Out Night on a quarterly basis, with the goal of supporting the local queer community. This popular event, held on Fridays, will feature drag performances, live music, and special promotions. Businesses on Orange Street and Avenue Junipero, between Broadway and Junipero, will open their doors at 10 p.M. For this block party-style event. The festival, known as Shop. Play. Eat. Out: Night, will kick off on Friday.

Bixby Park and the neighboring streets will be transformed into a lively venue for a grand music festival, starting from 11 a.M. Until 7 p.M., Dominating the main event on Saturday, May 20th.

The lineup consists of 18 LGBTQ+ musicians and DJs, who will be performing on three different stages. Moreover, attendees will have the chance to meet and experience the talents of 18 drag performers, including Delta Work and Mayhem Miller, both of whom were finalists on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Beach Streets, therefore participants can anticipate a continuous flow of bicycles along with diverse displays and artistic installations, is taking place concurrently with Saturday’s occasion. In addition to that, the vicinity will showcase a range of food stands and beer gardens from local establishments.

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The closure of Fest on Sunday, Proud! Long Beach will include installation art and a food truck, a lounge, and live DJs. The Big Gay Beach Takeover will take place at the rainbow lifeguard tower on the beach at 11th Place, from noon to 6 p.M.

New Long Beach Proud! Fest celebrates LGBTQ community with a free 3-day party starting May 19
The Big Gay Beach Takeover first began in 2020 and has since grown into an annual celebration at the rainbow lifeguard tower in Long Beach. The Big Gay Beach Takeover is one of three major celebrations happening May 19 to 21 during the new Long Beach Proud! Fest. Photo courtesy LB Living.

Register for the race at this location. The Shantay 1K earnings will support the AIDS Food Store. Participate in the race along the coastline, dress up in drag, and join the Shantay 1K. Attendees are strongly encouraged to do so.

Participants are also encouraged to bring food, beverages (non-alcoholic), or refreshments to distribute to other attendees.

“Hopefully it will make people smile and feel included,” Flores stated.

Long Beach Proud! Fest will take place from Friday, May 19th to Sunday, May 21st. Click here for additional details.

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