Here’s where and how you can still celebrate Pride this year in Long Beach

Though many had their fingers crossed that Long Beach would throw its annual Pride parade this year, what with COVID-19 restrictions easing, the city still decided to forgo the parade this year. They instead opted for a virtual celebration as an extra safety precaution.

As the third-largest Pride parade in the country—some 80,000 attend each year—it’s unclear when large events like the Pride parade will resume. That said, celebrations still abound and some members of the community have organized their own outdoor, COVID-conscious celebrations.

Here’s a list of where you can celebrate Pride (safely) this weekend.

LONG BEACH PRIDE NIGHT BIKE RIDE (Friday)

Image courtesy Gay Long Beach/Facebook.

Gear up (you and your bike) in all things glowing and glittery for this Friday, May 14 evening’s bike ride roll-out in honor of Gay Pride.

The 2.5-mile excursion (round-trip) takes off at the Belmont Pier at 7 p.m. and will travel down the beach path to Downtown. After a 30-minute break, the group will head back up to the pier.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own bikes or skates, but the parade will be at a brisk walking pace for those who’d like to participate but don’t have any wheels to cruise.

For more information, click here.

The Belmont Pier is off Ocean Boulevard at 39th Place.

PRIDE VIRTUAL CELEBRATION (Sunday)

In lieu of the annual parade, Long Beach Pride has organized a virtual celebration.

The programming will include video clips of past parades and festivals in Long Beach, performances from local musicians and entertainers, conversations with performers, and a live-streamed question-and-answer session with Pride organizers.

The stream, which starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 16, is free to watch and will premiere on all major platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to choose how you’d like to watch.

PRIDE-ALONG DRIVE (Sunday)

Image courtesy organizer/Facebook.

Deck out your car in all things loud and proud and drive through Downtown and the Broadway Corridor (also known as the “gayborhood”) Sunday, May 16.

The two-hour (10 a.m. to noon) parade, or “pride-along” was organized by local Steve Gillis-Moore who felt it was still important to celebrate in-person, but safely.

To join the procession, arrive at the Rite Aid in Alamitos Beach (211 Cherry Ave.) between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Once there are at least 20 cars in attendance, the parade will roll-out on the corner of Cherry Avenue and Broadway, move west along Ocean Boulevard and circle back on Elm Avenue repeatedly until noon.

Observers are encouraged to watch and cheer from the sidewalk.

Click here for more info.

BIG GAY BEACH TAKEOVER (Sunday)

Image courtesy organizers/Facebook.

Following the “pride-along” parade, the rainbow clad car procession will drive down to the recently burned down Pride tower (12th Place and Ocean Boulevard) and take over that stretch of sand. They’ll be blasting tunes and decorating the spot with rainbow flags, disco balls, and all things glittery—all they ask is you bring your celebratory self.

Dress-up is encouraged as organizers will have a photographer on site to take photos of the celebration. The event is from noon to 5 p.m.

Click here for more info and event rules.

GAY BARS

Michael Romero, owner of The Crest, works behind the bar at his North Long Beach establishment, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Los Angeles County is now in the “yellow tier,” which is the least restrictive in the state’s “blueprint” for COVID-19 metrics, and for gay bars without outdoor patios, parklets, or a full kitchen, this was really good news—just in time for Pride.

Now they’re allowed to serve patrons indoors, without food service, at 25% capacity—or 100 people—whichever is fewer.

Still many owners are choosing to remain cautious. As Michael Romero, owner of The Crest in North Long Beach said in a  recent Long Beach Business Journal story, the lively nature of Pride isn’t conducive to county health precautions, “everybody wants to go from table to table and socialize and meet people,” he said.

So for those choosing to visit the gay bars this year, businesses will require patrons to adhere to health precautions and capacity limits. Some, like Hamburger Mary’s, who put on drag shows and other entertainment, will require reservations in advance.

Click here for a complete list of all the gay bars in the city—business hours will vary.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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