LA County raises Progress Pride Flag over county building for 1st time to kick off Pride Month

Thursday, June 1, 2023
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Marking the beginning of Pride Month, Los Angeles County officials raised the Progress Pride Flag over the downtown Hall of Administration Thursday -- the first time a Pride flag has flown over a county building.

The Board of Supervisors in March approved a resolution by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Lindsey Horvath directing the county's Internal Services Department to raise the Progress Pride Flag at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration and Los Angeles County facilities where the American and California flags are displayed during the month of June.

In a statement after the vote, Hahn said, "We are seeing anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans bills being passed at an alarming rate across the country. Here in Los Angeles County, we're making our position clear: in the largest county in the nation, LGBTQ+ residents have the unwavering support of their government.''

During Thursday's ceremony, Horvath condemned growing attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

"When this community is under attack, it is all our responsibility to stand up, to speak out and say that is not happening here on our watch in Los Angeles County, period,'' Horvath said.

The flag of Gay Pride first flew 45 years ago on Freedom Day in San Francisco. It was created by Gilbert Baker with the input of gay activist and Supervisor Harvey Milk. With its eight brilliantly colored stripes -- representing sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic and art, serenity and spirit -- the banner flaunted the values and dignity of the gay community. And in its varied versions, it has done so ever since.

Recently, according to Hahn and Horvath's motion, artist Daniel Quasar created the Progress Pride Flag as a reimagination of the original 1970s symbol. It includes black and brown stripes representing marginalized and diverse communities of color, community members lost to HIV/AIDS as well as those living with the disease. The new colors' chevron shapes evoke a need for forward movement, according to the motion.

"While much progress and inclusion has occurred over the decades, some governing bodies have voted to ban displays of the Pride flag,'' according to the motion.

Despite a unanimous vote two years ago to allow the Pride flag to be flown at City Hall, the city of Huntington Beach recently overturned the vote and will now only allow city, state and national flags to regularly be flown at City Hall.

It was unclear how many county facilities will display the Progress Pride Flag during the month of June. There was a separate ceremony Thursday morning to raise the flag over the county Department of Public Social Services building in Industry.

At the Hall of Administration downtown, Hahn and Horvath were joined by Supervisor Hilda Solis, county Assessor Jeff Prang and District Attorney George Gascón for the flag-raising event.

Also attending was Sister Tootie Toot, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a longtime LGBTQ+ activist group that made headlines in recent weeks when it was dis-invited from the Dodgers' upcoming Pride Night celebration, then re-invited after criticism from activist groups.

The Sisters, who dress as nuns in drag, have been loudly criticized by Catholic and Christian organizations, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which claim the group mocks and disparages the church. The group has defended its actions, saying it is a nonprofit organization that has raised thousands of dollars to support struggling LGBTQ+ communities and uses its religious trappings as a response to those faiths whose members would condemn us and seek to strip away the rights of marginalized communities.

"County government is a very important part of Southern California life," said Sister Tootie Toot in comments to Eyewitness News. "And to have them celebrate us, and have them be very up in front. Instead of working behind the scenes, they are out in front, and showing us and leading the way on how other governments and organizations can react to and celebrate Pride Month. Because it really is a celebration."

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