About Us > History
History of Pagan Pride LA/OC
During July of 1999, Selene Silverwind and Brian Ewing decided that Los Angeles Pagans needed something along the lines of Gay Pride Day. This decision was due to Representative Barr's attack on Pagans holding rituals on the Fort Hood US Army base and the Ten Commandments bill being raised on the House floor.
We originally decided to hold the event in June of 2000 to coincide with the anniversary of the first witch trial in Salem, Massachusetts. Since the event rose out of a political concern, we wanted to emphasize political issues affecting Pagans. A little web browsing led us to the Pagan Pride organization, which was in its third year and already planning approximately 35 (at that time) events around the country. (see the National site here)
Above: the 1999 event
These events were scheduled to coincide with the fall equinox (Mabon). That was not much time to prepare, but we held our event anyway, on September 19, 1999. We received a lot of help from 10 dedicated volunteers and attracted 150 attendees. In addition, we were visited by local LAPD officers, who left the event with a new understanding of who Pagans are and what we are about. The comment heard most frequently from the officers was, "They're all so nice."
Following the event, Mysti Rosewind was promoted to third coordinator and planning for the 2000 event got underway. We already knew that Pagan Pride Day 2000 was going to require a larger park, and it became quickly clear that a larger park meant lots of money. We settled on the Unitarian Universalist Church in Long Beach. We also planned two fundraisers to raise the money for the rental of the Church. So for the first time, Pagan Pride Los Angeles had more than one event in a year. Only one of the fundraisers actually happened, but it was a raging success.
Larger parks and raising large sums of money also meant having nonprofit status. The park required this and large donors appreciated the write-off. Selene did much research on tax code and helped us incorporate in August of 2000, and get approved as a nonprofit corporation by November of 2000.
As for Pagan Pride Day 2000, a short paragraph does it no justice. We expected 300 people but got 700. We expected some press coverage but got lead stories in the two largest newspapers in the county. We also expected to come out ahead, but did not. If you can spare a dime, send it to us and you will get a tax write-off. Despite being in debt, we are charging on and you can expect a series of Pagan Pride events in 2001. We need an army to do it, find out how you can help.
Above and below: the 2000 event
My how we grew
Pagan Pride Los Angeles is one of the bigger Pagan Prides nationwide, and an important part of Pagan Pride Day is networking. It's the one day all of us come together, in one place, and the energy of that day has made and will continue to help reach our goal of tolerance for and acceptance of Pagan religions.
The success of the event has led Selene and Brian both to speak on radio shows and at Pagan conferences. And Brian now has the new role of Western Regional Coordinator, which requires overseeing Pagan Pride activities in all the Western states.
The following year, in 2001, Pagan Pride grew nationwide, but Pagan Pride Los Angeles was one of the events hit hard by the September 11 tragedy (not as hard as New York or DC, of course). Pagan Pride Day 2001 had to be postponed to October 20, and was the same size event as in 2000, but didn't grow. In place of the postponed event, we held a healing ritual and memorial on September 15, right where Pagan Pride Day was supposed to take place in Balboa Park. Over 200 people showed up, and so did Fox 11 news, and we were featured that evening, on the news and in the local prime time programming, as part of the segment on area religious ceremonies.
With Pagan Pride Day 2002, our attendance grew nearer to our goal of 1000, drawing people from all over the Southland, as well as 50 vendors and organizations, eight performers, eleven authors, and ten workshops. Fabulous rituals were once again led by the Raven's Cry Grove and the Ancient Keltic Church. Raven of Raven's Flight was instrumental in arranging for Southern California COG to lead the main ritual. Two food booths, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, were busy all day. In addition to hosting a successful and enjoyable day, PPLA emerged from debt and secured a permanent site at Whittier Narrows.
The Pagan Pride Project, Inc. currently stands at over 100 planned events in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Great Britain, and Portugal, all of which take place around the month of September.
We promise to keep putting our event on year after year if you will promise to keep coming and showing us your support! One day Pagans will be accepted by everyone, everywhere and we look forward to that day.
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