This past weekend, the city of Long Beach celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride.  In case you didn’t know, Long Beach Pride is the 3rd largest gay pride celebration in the nation drawing over 75,000 people to its two-day event.  This year’s performances included Jennifer Hudson and the Indigo Girls.

My original plan was to attend on Saturday (which I did) and skip the parade on Sunday.  I usually don’t let anything interfere with my hiking on Sunday.

However, I ended up riding in the parade on Sunday after all.  I rode with California Assemlymember Laura Richardson, who is also a candidate for Congress to replace Juanita Millender-McDonald in the 37th District.  It was her 9th consecutive year participating and to my knowledge, and I am pretty knowledgeable, she was the only Black elected official that rode in the parade.

Given all of the unnecessary controversy surrounding her and her view of gay civil rights, you would have thought the last thing she would have wanted to do is spend her Sunday riding in a gay pride parade but that wasn’t the case.  She called me up Saturday night and asked if I wanted to ride with her and of course I couldn’t say no.  Besides, I wanted to make sure there was no funny business and no one messed with her out there.

Richardson was well received and it was clear that the people love her.  Gay, straight, Black, white, Asian, and Latino’s came up to the car to shake her hand and give her accolades.  Parade watchers chanted “Laura, Laura, Laura!” as we rode the two or so mile parade route. 

I was sitting there and I thinking to myself, ok, so if gay people dislike her so much, where is it because that clearly wasn’t the case yesterday.

My suspicion as I alluded to in an earlier post is that people who don’t live in the district are trying to control the district from outside.  In other words, there’s a group of people who are trying to influence gay and lesbian voters by insinuating that Laura is homophobic because of a few mistakes in the past.  But I don’t think it’s working.  They might be able to shift the gay dollars behind Laura’s opponent, but that doesn’t mean they can shift the mindsets of people who know Laura from her days on the Long Beach City Council and her work in the community.  The same can be said of me.  If I thought for one minute that she was homophobic, I wouldn’t be supporting her in the way that I am.  But because I know for a fact that she’s not, I am.  Plain and simple.  Besides, if you really want to get to the heart of the matter, I don’t think it has anything to do with her being homophobic.  I think it has more to do with certain people not wanting the 37th Congressional District seat to remain African American and to that end being willing to exhaust all possible strategies, even accusing her of being homophobic, to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

Everyone knows that this race is between two people, California Senator Jenny Oropeza and Assemblymember Richardson.  As stated in yesterday’s Long Beach Press Telegram, there are more similarities than differences between the two Democratic candidates.  But Richardson is not homophobic and it’s a sleazy campaign tactic to use.

I hope this nastiness is over and that the record has been set straight, no pun intended, on this issue.

Continue reading to see more photos from Long Beach Pride.