Los Angeles Pride is this weekend June 10-12 and the parade grand marshall is… Paris Hilton. No, I’m not kidding. Here’s some pride related history for you. In 1975 the president of Christopher Street West, the organization which founded Los Angeles Pride invited then Police Chief Edward Davis to participate in the festivities. Frontiers Newsmagazine*, a Southern California gay publication, has reprinted Davis’ historical response:
May 23, 1975
Ms. Sharon D. Cornelison, President
Christopher Street West Association
P.O. Box 3949
Hollywood, California 90028
Dear Ms. Cornelison:
As you no doubt expected, I am declining your invitation to participate in the celebration of “GAY PRIDE WEEK.” While I support your organization’s constitutional right to express your feelings on the subject of homosexuality, I am obviously not in sympathy with your views on the subject. I would much rather celebrate “GAY CONVERSION WEEK” which I will gladly sponsor when the medical practitioners in this country find a way to convert gays to heterosexuals.
Very truly yours,
E. M. DAVIS
Chief of Police
Here are some key facts to put the letter in context: Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973, two years before this letter was penned. Los Angeles Pride began in 1970 but wasn’t held in West Hollywood until 1979 and at the time was still an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County. West Hollywood was finally incorporated in 1984. This weekend marks the 35th year of celebration.
Incidentally Edward Davis was still serving a year later when 107 police officers raided the “Mark IV,” a local bathhouse holding a charity mock-slave auction, citing participants under a 1899 state law prohibiting slavery. The following day The Orange County Register’s front page headline read “Police Free Gay Slaves.”(*)
*Page 16. May 11-24, 2005. Vol 24, No 11.