Christopher Street West celebrates the 46th Anniversary of LA PRIDE with the announcement of its most iconic and honored role within the weekend festivities, the Parade Grand Marshal, Jewel Thais-Williams. The annual Parade, which takes place in West Hollywood, honors the LGBTQ community's past struggles while celebrating its future generation of leaders. This year's Parade celebration will also feature Los Angeles area LGBTQ pioneers from the community who have helped shape LGBTQ history, highlight community organizations, corporate partners and a mix of celebrities who support the LGBTQ community. LA PRIDE's 46th Parade continues to bring the LGBTQ community together to honor its past and celebrate its future.
As the owner of the historic Catch One Disco, one of the most iconic Black gay discos in the world, Jewel Thais-Williams helped create a safe haven for many of the LGBTQ community for over 40 years. Not only was The Catch a place where one could find some of the biggest names in entertainment, like Sammy Davis Jr., Chaka Khan, Sylvester, Weather Girls, and Rick James, it also served as a community center for the Black LGBTQ community in Los Angeles. Her work with those affected by HIV/AIDS has steadily continued through the years. In the realm of community service, she also co-founded the Minority AIDS Project, which aims to help those affected by the disease in the African-American and Hispanic communities. Jewel served as a Board member of the AIDS Project Los Angeles and has made significant strides in helping women affected by AIDS by co-founding Rue's House. Rue's House was the first housing facility for women with AIDS giving much-needed services and shelter for women and their children in the United States.
"I am humbled by my selection as the Grand Marshal for this years LA PRIDE Parade. Many years ago we collaborated with another club and a florist company to become the first representing people of color in the parade. What an honor it is for me to lead the parade, pause for a minute to acknowledge the unity we have come to cherish in the community," said Jewel Thais-Williams.
Jewel founded the Village Health Foundation in 2001. As a non-profit organization that specializes in nutrition, lifestyle changes, and diseases with high incidence in the African American community, the foundation aims to provide preventative health care and education to the community for diseases like HIV/AIDS, along with others. By offering services like emotional counseling, individual, family and group counseling, and medication therapy and management, Village Health Foundation does much to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African-American LGBTQ community.
"Jewel Thais-Williams is a true symbol of leadership within our community. Her tireless efforts have positively affected the lives of countless LGBTQ minorities," said Marquita Thomas, CSW Board Member. "Jewel's dedication to bettering our community is truly inspiring to myself as well as a whole new generation of activists, community leaders and community supporters. In the past, our Grand Marshal has been a celebrity-focused opportunity. While we will again have celebrity participation throughout our parade, starting last year with Reverend Troy Perry and Trans youth activist Zoey, our Grand Marshal title now honors community activists who we consider to be our own celebrities and who have fearlessly fought for equality for our community."
In conjunction with LA PRIDE's recognition of Jewel Thais-Williams and her history of work, this year's weekend programming will engage guests through various events and activations to shed light on the HIV/AIDS crisis within LGBTQ communities of color. While overall rates of HIV have declined in the United States, rates are increasing in African-American and Hispanic men who have sex with men. At current rates, half of black and one quarter of Latino gay or bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. Focused on education, care, and prevention amongst LGBTQ community members of color, LA PRIDE, along with several LGBTQ Minority Community Based Organizations, will host onsite festival activations throughout the weekend. LA PRIDE will also offer free entry into its Friday evening Vogue Ball for anyone who is tested for HIV at REACH LA before the event weekend. With all eyes on the signature parade on Sunday, June 12th, LA PRIDE will dedicate its 'Moment of Silence' to LGBTQ minorities affected by HIV/AIDS. Several parade contingents will march in solidarity to bring broader awareness to this epidemic that is plaguing LGBTQ communities of color.
"Every year the LA PRIDE Music Festival & Parade has the opportunity to engage media and the community with relevant social messaging," said CSW Board Member Craig Bowers. "Last year our focus was educating the community about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), the year prior to that we focused our efforts on our Transgender community and the struggles they face daily. With the rapidly growing number of LGBTQ minorities directly affected by HIV/AIDS, it is our duty to bring greater overall awareness to this epidemic in the hopes we can save lives."
Key LA PRIDE Event Dates
June 10th, June 11th & 12th - LA PRIDE Music Festival (A Ticketed Event)
June 12th - LA PRIDE Parade (Free Event)
For venue details including Parade & Festival location details and updates, visit: www.LAPRIDE.org
A Facebook Event Page has been created for this this year's event. Make sure you RSVP on Facebook and let your friends know that you'll be attending another year of great performances!
About LA PRIDE / Christopher Street West
Christopher Street West Association, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community of Greater Los Angeles. We are committed to the goals of human rights, education, outreach and equality for LA's LGBT community. Founded in response to the Stonewall Rebellion on Christopher Street in New York on June 28, 1969, Christopher Street West conducted the first parade in the world advocating for gay rights in June of 1970 in Hollywood, CA. That tradition lives on today in the form of the LA PRIDE Music Festival and Parade, now in it's 46th year, taking place in the City of West Hollywood, CA.