Troy Perry's Pride: June 1970 Saw the Nation's First Gay Pride Parades. Metropolitan Community Church Founder Troy Perry Recalls L.A.'S Maiden March
It all started in late May 1970 when Morris Kight called my home and asked me if I'd read The Advocate's article about the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. He wanted us to meet up with the Reverend Bob Humphries to see if we could find a way to memorialize them in Los Angeles. Three nights later over coffee at my house we decided on a parade.
We went to the police commission to fib out an application for a permit. After about two hours of debate, then--chief of police Ed Davis said, "As far as I'm concerned, granting a permit to a group of homosexuals to parade down Hollywood Boulevard would be the same as giving a permit to a group of thieves and murderers!"
The commission would agree to a permit only if we took out liability insurance totaling $1.5 million and posted a $1,500 bond. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, we took our request for a permit to a county superior court judge, who not only granted it--without requiring a bond or insurance--but also required the police to provide us protection.
On Sunday afternoon, June 28, 1970, the first LGBT pride parade in Los Angeles began at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place. About 1,200 showed up to march or staff the floats; spectators numbered over 15,000.
The parade was incredible. We didn't get the bands we wanted, so my roommate, Willie Smith, drove the route in his VW bus playing World War II German marches from an amplification system he'd hooked up. Willie's thinking? Since the police enjoyed treating us like the oppressed of WWII, they might like the music and leave us alone. The Society of Anubis float started the parade. …