Well, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is dancing with drag queens again, so you know what that means! No, his wife's not out of town—it means this weekend marks the 2011 edition of LA PRIDE, the West Hollywood-based Gay Pride festival/parade that makes a normal WeHo party look like a Sunday School field trip to the Creation Museum. And as a straight man, I can tell you for certain that whether or not you identify as LGBT, it's going to be worth your time. In the same way that you don't have to be Mexican on Cinco de Mayo or Irish on St. Patty's, LA PRIDE is a gigantic party open to any and all who want to celebrate equality and/or get drunk in public.
So here, then, is the first Straight Man's Guide to LA PRIDE, featuring my completely subjective take on the events, bars and restaurants that are worth your time no matter which box you click when filling out your Facebook profile. [Go HERE to see all the LA PRIDE events happening this weekend and more on our Calendar!]
First off, we should note that all official PRIDE events (unless otherwise noted) are taking place in West Hollywood Park, on San Vicente between Santa Monica and Melrose.
Click the map on the left to look at the big picture of the official festival grounds.
Where: The Abbey When: Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 3pm-2am
If you're a straight guy who tells their gay friends that you would totally go to a gay bar except you're worried about being hit on by guys, there's an easy, two step solution. First, think about every poor girl you've ever drunkenly hit on in a bar. Then, punch yourself in the face, several times if necessary. Once that's out of your system, go grab a drink or two at The Abbey. First of all, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cooler-looking bar of any kind on the Westside. The drinks are standard L.A. pricing, of course, but if you came to West Hollywood to save money, that's kind of on you.
As for your more, um, specific concerns, we'll put it like this: you don't have to worry about being hit on, not least of all because the gay guys here are most likely younger, hipper, and in way better shape than you or I. Accept this.
If You Can't Miss The Game: GYM
Where: GYM Sportsbar When: All Weekend
It's just as biased and ignorant to say that all straight guys like sports as it is to claim that women or non-straight guys don't like sports. That said, if you're as personally invested as I am in watching both the NBA Championship and the Stanley Cup Finals this weekend, you're going to want to find a bar that not only has a television, but also lots of other people who feel as psychotically about the playoffs as you do. The logical choice, therefore, is GYM on Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo's premiere gay sports bar. That means that on Sunday, it will be packed with dudes who, just like you, care a lot more about LeBron James than Johnny Weir.
For the record, I care about LeBron James in much the same way that I care about Sarah Palin—that is to say, I strongly want to watch them fail as spectacularly as possible. But if you're a Heat fan, either because you were born in Miami or because you also root for the Yankees, Cowboys, Darth Vader, Cobra Kai or the IRS, you'll probably be able to find some kindred spirits there as well.
Oh yeah, and with $3 beers all weekend and a daily 2-for-1 happy hour, you don't need a max contract to put up a triple-double on the breathalyzer. [photo via]
So here's something I learned today: a straight man with lots of lesbian friends is called a Lesbro. Of course, I learned this from Esquire, so, um, grain of salt, but if the underlying premise is that the straight man/lesbian friendship is an undervalued concept, particularly when compared to the ubiquitous gay man/straight woman friendship, I'm right there. Which is why I would actively encourage all who feel the same way to attend tonight's Purple Party, a celebration of women happening at the official event site (West Hollywood Park) tonight (Friday) starting at 5pm.
There's Bacardi drink specials from 5-7, followed by the straightforwardly titled WeHo Dyke March at 7:30. Some of LA's best food trucks like Grilled Cheese, Kogi, and NomNom will be dishing out the favorites, so bring some cash. Meanwhile, live DJ sets will be happening constantly up through Macy Gray taking the stage at 11pm.
And as a Celtics fan, it pains me to say this, but wear purple, people. [photo via]
Where: West Hollywood City Hall When: Sunday, 7:45am-10am
When Sunday rolls around, I tend to react to my drunken hedonism in one of two ways. Either I lay in bed, clutching my skull and praying for death, or I throw my gym shoes on and desperately (and futilely) try to overcompensate for another weekend of sloth, gluttony and avarice. Well, come this Sunday, you won't have to sweat out your shame alone, as the Los Angeles Frontrunners LGBT running group is sponsoring both 5k and 10k runs, a RaceWalk, a kids' fun run, and several other related events. All of this will kick off Sunday in front of the West Hollywood City Hall around 7:30 am, so you can conceivably pack your running shoes from the night before and never really leave WeHo. Please note that as with most Sunday morning athletic activities, participation is merely a suggestion, and I am neither committing to being up to it the morning of, nor am I to be held responsible if you puke on your running shoes. [photo via]
Yeah, the 5k on Sunday might be a little aggressive, based on the 15 mixed drinks you consumed on Saturday night. In fact, more booze might be the remedy. So why not kick your feet up at this year's incarnation of Chad Hudson's Pride Parade Viewing Party, taking over La Bohème on Santa Monica Blvd from 10am-4pm Sunday. With its prime location across from the parade's media platform, you'll be able to sit back, enjoy the forecasted sunshine (it's June, so no promises), and booze up on the Margarita specials, the VIP Moët Ice Champagne, or any of their infamous specialty cocktails. Live DJ music and extra seating means you can bring your friends, and the promise of "additional restrooms" means you're covered in case last night's excesses come back to haunt you. [photo via]
So there you have it, straight guys: proof that PRIDE 2011 has plenty to offer you. After all, we love this town precisely because it's cool, stylish, fun and a little crazy. Do you honestly think that we have straight people to thank for that? Show your gratitude to your LGBT brothers and sisters, and support them while they continue to fight for the kind of equality they should have had a long time ago. It's kind of the least you can do.
[Mayor Villaraigosa photo via]