For a Left-leaning city, a glaring omission in Santa Monica’s past has been celebrating an iconic event such as Pride. This weekend, that changes, with Pride arriving at one of Santa Monica’s most iconic landmarks.
In addition to Downtown Santa Monica and Promenade Pride-related programming, The Pier will get in on celebrating the LGBT community, too.
Pride-related programming kicks off Saturday, June 1 with Smorgasburg (“the Woodstock of Eating”, a Pier press release says) and runs throughout the month with activities such as ROGA (a portmanteau of “run” and “yoga”) and an inclusivity-themed children’s story time.
Negin Singh, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation says the LGBT-inclusive programming has been a long time coming.
“A lot of our neighboring cities have had Pride events and a lot of them since the first Pride,” Singh said. “We are a city that sees such diversity and prides itself on being so inclusive. The time is long overdue to put our stake in the ground and say we welcome and celebrate the LGBT community that live in and visit here.”
If you think the Pier’s Pride events look a little similar to Summer programming of previous years, you’d be correct and that’s by design.
Singh says her team reached out for community feedback and discovered that many LGBTQIA residents wanted to be integrated into events that already existed as opposed to having something separate.
“We discovered the community wanted to highlight activists and people in their community instead of something wholly different,” Singh said.
“We’ve come to a place in LA where most people are fine with the gay community but may not interact with or put themselves in places where they celebrate the community. So our ethos is taking these events we know have followings and bring LGBT people and sponsors to where people are. It’s an integration effort.”
The Pier’s Pride events are lowkey and that, too, is by design. Singh says the events are complementary programming to other celebrations one may find within LA, giving families the opportunity to have a lowkey celebration throughout the month with or without other Pride celebrations.
“We’ve heard from the community that there’s not enough geared towards families,” Singh said.
“Pride has traditionally been a party-based celebration and for good reason– that celebratory mood is a necessity for the community. But [Pier events] are for people looking for a different celebration, who want something less loud with their kids. We’re not in competition with other LA Pride events, we just want to give another option.”
When asked why previous years haven’t had Pride events, Singh joked she wasn’t here those years. This year, all city departments were in lockstep on wanting to celebrate.
The idea came about when Singh saw rainbow-colored lights in the Promenade. The colors reminded her of the Pride flag and she immediately reached out to Downtown Santa Monica to see what they could do for Pride. The conversation had a domino effect, bringing in Santa Monica Place and the City.
Singh says the Pier and other organizations involved will see how this year goes before deciding on future programming but noted that Pride will have a presence in the city moving forward.
For now, however, Singh is just happy to help bring Pride to the Pier.
“It’s always been on people’s minds,” she said. “It’s not about who has the idea but how we put it together. All of our departments are all working strong right now and we knew if we put it together it wouldn’t just be a fizzle but really move the needle. We all want to build something bigger, something to be proud of.”
For more information on Pier Pride events, visit https://www.smpride.com/