I had the honor of interviewing LA Pride Resist March Organizer Brian Pendleton for the latest issue of the West Hollywood City of Commerce WORKS magazine.
Brian is a busy man. His schedule was pulling him in different directions, but he was generous enough to invite me into his home to conduct my interview and discuss everything related to #ResistMarch. He really is an all around nice guy who truly cares about the community.
The Pride issue of West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s WORKS magazine is out like NOW and it’s bigger than ever with a beautiful cover photo courtesy of Jon Viscott Photography, www.jonviscott.com.
The magazine is not available online so I’m posting my interview here for your consuming pleasure.
Brian Pendleton Brings #ResistMarch to West Hollywood
By Paulo Murillo
Activist, entrepreneur and chairman of Christopher Street West Brian Pendleton, sits with West Hollywood WORKS to discuss how his early activism put him in a direction to one day lead in organizing #ResistMarch—the protest for human rights march that’s replacing this year’s LA Pride parade, on June 11. Pendleton anticipates the 3.1-mile march will attract hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors into the city of West Hollywood and explains why the massive crowds will be good for WeHo businesses.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Ohio, but I moved here when I was three. I grew up here and went to school here. I was in Hollywood as an 11th grader I believe, the day West Hollywood became a city. I’ve been around for a while.
What was your first activism like?
My first activism was when I worked at Sixth Gallery Cafe, which was next door to Micky’s bar. The very progressive owners shut the doors and said we had to hit the streets after Pete Wilson had vetoed AB101. I was a kid in my 20s and it was the first time I saw people gathering in the street and protesting and marching down Santa Monica, to San Vicente, to Wilshire. We closed down Wilshire Boulevard. The next night, we closed down the Century Plaza Hotel. And then next day, we went all the way down to the Federal Building. It was powerful on so many levels. I was new to the community, but seeing my people come together, who really cared about something, it woke activism in me and I’m sure thousands of people like me. It really sent me in a direction in my life.
Can you tell us about the Facebook post that started it all?
The genesis of my post was to postpone or not do a parade this year—let’s do a march instead and do the parade next year. Within a few days we had over 30,000 likes. It was incredible. It obviously spoke to a pent up demand to want to do a little bit more and maybe make a pivot this year and be out there in a meaningful way—not that the parade isn’t meaningful—it’s an incredible celebration, but people are feeling nervous about the times that we’re in, so this gave people an outlet.
At what point did you realize a #ResistMarch could actually happen?
I saw that something was going to happen pretty immediately. People from LA Pride called and community leaders started reaching out and saying that they’d really like to see this happen. The universes aligned. People want to see unity. It’s free. It’s colorful. It’s color blind.
Did you think you’d be organizing the event after that Facebook post?
It happened through some wonderful circumstances. I recently sold my company, so I’m unemployed and I have the time to make this happen. I have produced events as my professional career, so it just seemed like a natural moment, but more than that, I immediately had twenty people on an organizing committee. It’s a very diverse cross-section of our community. We had our first committee meeting within a week of that post. I was just in awe.
So why not have a #ResistMarch as well as a Pride parade?
I posted on my site that a parade felt frivolous this year and thirty-plus-thousand people said they agreed. I understand that some people want to see a parade, but wherever the LGBTQ community gathers, it will always be colorful. We always draw strength from each other. This is an LGBTQ mounted event. We care about our rights, and this year we are wrapping other people into our platform—dreamers, immigrants, people of color, people with diverse stakes—we’re bringing them into our big tent and we’re saying we care about your human rights too.
Reverend Troy Perry who created the MCC Church and co-founded LA Pride, said the pivot to march is exactly what we should be doing right now.
What do you tell the people who don’t feel they can be colorful, or sparkly at a protest march?
Virtually every time I talk about it, I say it’s colorful. Bring your true self. There are no rules. Be out there and be loud and be proud. LA Pride started in 1970 for this reason.
Why did you decide not to make this an Anti-Trump protest?
I think anyone can get behind human rights. Now is not the time to further divide ourselves and find more reasons why we are different than alike. It’s why I’m reaching out to republicans, to Log Cabin and inviting Republican lawmakers, because maybe they care about fiscal tax issues or trade plans, but they have LGBTQ sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and parents and they know us and I’m sure they don’t want to see our rights roll back. I believe that we can all come together and say that human rights matters to us today.
Do you anticipate violent clashes with pro-trump demonstrators?
We insist that nothing happens like that. We’re working with public safety to ensure that it’s a peaceful march. The messaging that is most important to us is that this is peaceful. We want people to come out in a colorful way, and not in a way that disrupts private citizens. We are not interested in people damaging property. That is not OK. We respect everybody, including people with opposite opinions. We encourage them to march with us. We care about human rights and if you care about human rights, but in a different way, join us. This is unity. This is not anti anybody.
What’s it like being board member at CSW?
I’m a proud member of CSW. I’m focusing on the march and making sure that the march makes L.A. and America proud. I want to make sure our participants are proud, that it is safe, and peaceful. I have found that the leadership of CSW has been incredibly supportive. They have their own logistical problems with the space being smaller this year. I’m hoping the march will help maybe reset people’s opinions about what LA pride can be for L.A.
What do you say to people who criticize LA Pride for being too commercial?
There’s an economics conversation that needs to happen. My dream for LA Pride is to get the community comfortable enough with corporate participation so that it’s free. We have to re-align people’s thinking about how corporations can be good partners, because in some amazing cases, they stand up for us.
Do you anticipate 500,000 people at the march?
That’s what other people are saying. I think it can be hundreds of thousands of people if we do it right. I think the Women’s March were expecting 75,000. We can learn from them. We want to move. We want everyone to join us at Hollywood and Highland. Lets do something that they were not able to do, which is move. Can you imagine the vision of 100, 200, 300 thousand people marching through the streets of Los Angeles for human rights? It will be the largest march in LA history, brought to you by the LGBT community, which I’d be incredibly proud of.
How do you think the #ResistMarch will impact West Hollywood businesses?
It worked out well for businesses during the women’s march, so I say get ready. Staff yourselves up. Make sure your doors are open for business, because there’s going to be a lot more people in town and especially the Sunset businesses. I’m committed to make sure that those businesses on Sunset get some traction. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that, but I want to work with them. There is going to be a lot of people and we’ll want them to go somewhere and spend their dollars in West Hollywood. I say be open for business and be ready to have your biggest day of the year.
People are coming. Look at our website. Look at our partner page. Look who’s being added every day. Some of the most loved charities and unions and individuals are signing on and saying they’re going to be there. Let’s come out and make LA proud. Let’s go out there and be a proud moving, living, breathing monument of human rights.
To learn more about #ResistMarch, visit resistmarch.org.