Long Beach could soon officially recognize June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and honor the late Harvey Milk’s birthday if the City Council approves changes to how the city honors its LGBTQ+ community.

Councilmember Megan Kerr is requesting the city shift its official recognition of Pride Week, which had been historically held toward the end of May, to the full month of June, which has been recognized nationally as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The council will discuss the issue at its Tuesday meeting.

Kerr is also asking that May 22 be declared Harvey Milk Day, in recognition of the first openly gay elected official in California, who was assassinated in 1978 after less than a year as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk was born May 22, 1930, and a public area in Downtown was named Harvey Milk Promenade Park in 2012.

She said Monday that it was important to put these changes in writing so that the raising of the flag or the recognition of Pride month were not dependent on who was in office in any given year.

“This feels like a piece that was missing,” Kerr said, adding that she’s hopeful the council will be able to vote on the changes before the end of June.

The request also asks for the city to fly the Progress Pride Flag, which includes colors representing the transgender community as well as communities of color and those living with or who have died from HIV or AIDS, at city hall from May 22 through the end of June each year.

“By acknowledging LGBTQ+ Pride Month, in the City of Long Beach, it showcases our commitment to fostering an environment that values diversity, supports LGBTQ+ individuals, and promotes understanding and respect within our community,” Kerr said in her request.

Pride flags waves in the wind under the city flag in front of city hall as Long Beach commemorates the start of Pride month in Long Beach, Thursday, June 1, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

If the rest of the council approves of the changes, a new resolution would be drafted by the city attorney’s office for the council to vote on.

Long Beach first flew the rainbow Pride Flag at City Hall in March 2013 as the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments over Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Last week, officials raised the Progress Flag at city hall, where elected officials said that the LGBTQ+ community was still under attack as lawmakers in other states and at the federal level were working to erode their rights.

The first Pride parade in Long Beach in 1984 came after years of the LGBTQ+ community fighting to secure permits, which the city pushed back on at the time. Those plans for the first parade are now kept at the Long Beach Historical Society.

But there has been more recent pushback.

In 2016, raising the Pride Flag at city hall was called preferential treatment by some members of the public, who called on the City Council to not raise the flag at all unless they were open to flying multiple other flags from other groups in the city.

The city is now in the process of designing an LGBTQ+ Cultural Corridor along Broadway north of Alamitos Beach, where some of the more historic protests and past Pride parades were hosted. The corridor is meant to pay homage to the community and possibly serve as a tourist destination.

Long Beach’s Pride celebration has shifted away from its typical May celebration date and was moved to July last year to take advantage of better weather. This year, the 40th installment of the annual celebration, which includes a parade and festival, is scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 5.

Kerr’s request asks for the city to fly the flag and light up city assets during the month of June but also during the annual Pride celebration and on other occasions when important court decisions or other events affecting the LGBTQ+ community happen in the future.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated with a comment from Councilmember Megan Kerr. 

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.