Long Beach has long celebrated its LGBTQ+ community, and now the city will go even further by officially recognizing June as Pride Month, along with other moves the City Council voted to approve Tuesday.
In addition to honoring Pride Month, Long Beach will also declare May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, after the groundbreaking gay lawmaker who was assassinated in San Francisco in 1978. May 22 is Milk’s birthday, and the official recognition of his legacy is nothing new in Long Beach; a park in Downtown Long Beach, where local LGBTQ+ leaders are honored on a wall, is named after him.
To coincide with the two new recognitions, the Progress Flag, which is a version of the Pride Flag that includes stripes for the transgender community as well as black and brown stripes for communities of color, will be flown at city hall from May 22 through the month of June.
Long Beach had previously recognized the third week of May as Pride Week, but the annual Pride celebration had recently shifted to later in the year, with event organizers pointing to better weather.
“Our city has come a long way from not giving a permit in 1984 to electing LGBTQ members to this body and other branches of government,” said Councilmember Megan Kerr, referencing the early struggles of the community to celebrate Pride in the city.
Kerr requested the item last week, saying that the changes needed to be codified to ensure that Pride Month was recognized by future City Councils. The city attorney’s office will now prepare a resolution for the council to vote on to adopt the new policies, which is expected to happen before the end of the month.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community were supportive of the changes, calling it a signal that Long Beach stands behind all its residents.
“When homophobia and hate cries are running rampant across the country, I’m so happy to see these legislative changes are before the council,” said Elsa Martinez, co-president of Long Beach Pride, the organization that throws the annual celebration in the city.
Another portion of Kerr’s request calls for city hall and other city buildings to be lit up in rainbow colors on Harvey Milk Day, through the month of June and whenever the annual Pride celebration is held in the city.
This year, the annual Pride celebration is scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 5.