Everything you need to know about the 41st Long Beach Pride weekend

The city’s largest LGBTQ+ celebration has moved back to its historic weekend and will feature Ivy Queen, Saucy Santana, and Valentina of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

Everything you need to know about the 41st Long Beach Pride weekend
Tens of thousands attend the 40th Annual Long Beach Pride Parade in Downtown Long Beach in 2023. Photo courtesy of Long Beach Pride.

Long Beach’s historic Pride weekend is returning to Downtown for a 41st year, bringing more star power, transgender representation, and a return to its roots as a spring celebration.

Themed “Rhythm of the Rainbow,” this year’s Long Beach Pride begins this Friday with a free Teen Pride event at Rainbow Lagoon from 4 to 9 p.m. The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at Marina Green Park. The parade — which typically draws tens of thousands — is on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon and runs down Ocean Boulevard between Lindero and Alamitos Avenues.

After celebrating a four-decade milestone in 2023, this year hits a bittersweet note as it marks the first Long Beach Pride without any of its original founders. Bob Crow, who was the last of them, died at 78 in September 2023, just one month after last year’s Pride.

Crow first hatched the idea for the parade in 1983 over a drink with fellow founders Marylin Barlow and Judith Doyle at the Executive Suite, a gay bar on Pacific Coast Highway. Barlow died in 2015 at 78; then, Doyle died in 2022, also at 78.

“I still feel them all around,” said Long Beach Pride President Tonya Martin, who was elected last year. “Every time I make a decision, I hear Bob’s voice.”

Martin said that during her last conversation with Crow, he asked that she reach out to all of the past board members and make them the grand marshals of the parade.

“And then he said, ‘you got this, girl,’” Martin said.

What’s good in the LBC: Pride weekend, a backyard hangout and more

Caitlin Antonios • May 16, 2024

Long Beach will celebrate Pride this weekend with the 41st Annual Pride Festival, so grab some water, sunscreen and a friend to enjoy the festivities. Here’s what’s good in Long Beach this weekend: Long Beach Pride (Saturday and Sunday) Festivities will b…

Read full story →

In a nod to its origins, Pride is returning to the third weekend in May this year.

“That originated in the ‘80s, when the people in power at the time were like, ‘We don’t want the gays in our tourist season,’” Jewels Long Beach said. “They thought that ultimately, the very next weekend (Memorial Day)... was the kickoff of summer, so we had to do it before then.”

For two years after the COVID-era shutdowns, the celebration was held in the summer months — which trailed most of the country’s other Pride celebrations that typically happen in June. Last year, at a town hall hosted by the Pride nonprofit, Martin said the number one request was to move the event back to its historic weekend.

Long Beach Pride, like many other nonprofits, is still hurting financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin said. After the organization struggled to come up with the funds for this year’s event, Martin said the city stepped up to serve as the official host of the parade.

“I’m very grateful for the city,” Martin said. “We put all of this together in six months. It was such a big turnaround.”

Don’t let Long Beach become a news desert. Become a Watchdog.

To help further cut down on costs, the festival will have a smaller footprint this year as it will be hosted at Marina Green Park without extending into Rainbow Harbor.

Despite this, Jewels — undoubtedly the city’s most recognizable drag icon who has hosted the parade from the grandstand for the past decade  — says the festival has still been able to diversify and expand its offerings.

“There’s no other Pride festival that’s right on the water like this,” she said.

This year’s lineup includes headliners Ivy Queen, a Puerto Rican singer and actress; makeup artist and rapper Saucy Santana; and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Valentina. Just before the party weekend kicks off, Jewels and Hamburger Mary’s will host the 10th annual Pink Party, a fundraiser and toiletry drive for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach.

Jewels said she and her “bevy of superstar drag kings and queens and all types of drag entertainment” can be found both festival days on the Founders Stage. Meanwhile, the fest will also host a queer country stage, a hip hop stage, a senior serenity zone, “Leather Village,” and more.

Jewels Long Beach performs at Hamburger Mary's in Downtown Wednesday, May 16, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Although the festival will feature specialty bars hosted by Hamburger Mary’s, Martin says that for the third year in a row, there will be a Sober Pride Tent open on both days where attendees can get access to recovery resources.

This year, the festival will also feature a TransVisibility Experience and designated tent area inside the festival, where Nashville celebrity stylist Shana Dahrling, a trans woman, will give a speech on both days at 11 a.m.

Like Crow, Martin moved to Long Beach from Alabama hoping to find a more accepting home. Dahrling, who also hails from Alabama, said she met Martin in the 1990s and did the same. Though she lives in Nashville now, she said she’s been coming to Long Beach Pride for the past two decades.

“I was a little trans kid in a small prejudiced town in Alabama, but as soon as I heard Queen on the radio and I heard, ‘We are the champions, my friends, and we’ll keep on fighting till the end,’ my little child self, three years old, said, ‘I’m gonna go out there. I’m gonna go to Los Angeles — I’m gonna meet people like me.”

Shana Dahrling poses with Dolly Parton, her longtime friend and beauty client. Photo courtesy of Shana Dahrling.

From then on, Dahrling said it quickly became her dream to style hair.

“I saw my superheroes in the ‘70s, which were Freddie Mercury and Dolly Parton,” she said. “All the abuse that I went through and the foster homes that I lived in, I dreamed that one day, I would meet Dolly. And then all of my dreams manifested and came true.”

Over her 32-year career, Dahrling said she has been able to style hair for Parton, Reba McEntire, Robert Palmer, Kristy McNichol, Barbara Eden, and more. After everything she’s experienced, Dahrling said it took her a long time to learn how to love herself, but she’s eager to share her story with those who attend Long Beach Pride this weekend.

“This is a time that we have here in this space, in this place,” she said. “So make it yours, own it, make the best of it. Don't let anybody keep you down or tell you what they think is the way you're supposed to live your life.

“When we love ourselves, we’re loving each other.”

The Long Beach Pride Parade is free and begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday. It will run down Ocean Boulevard between Lindero and Alamitos avenues. The festival will be hosted at 386 E. Shoreline Drive and general admission is $40. VIP packages range from $125 to $225. Information and tickets can be found here.

Kat Schuster was laid off from the Long Beach Post on March 22, yet she still authors Clocked Out and serves as editor of the Watchdog without pay. Thank her for her work.

Clocked Out: Visiting America's oldest Renaissance Fair

Kat Schuster • May 13, 2024

Good day, Before we get very excited about things like turkey legs, jousting, jolly pipers, flower crowns, corsets, goblets and archery — I have but one warning: Thee (probably) shouldn't wend to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire whilst unemploy'd. The tickets are

Read full story →