Johnny Weir is coming to town for gay pride and so are thousands of others.
More than 400,000 people are expected to attend this year’s LA Pride celebration, happening Friday through Sunday all throughout West Hollywood. Those 400,000 people are expected to spend lots of money.
According to a 2007 report commissioned by Christopher Street West, Pride weekend generates $22.7 million for the area. Of that, $16.4 million is spent in West Hollywood, while $6.3 million is spent in Los Angeles.
With the economy still sluggish, area businesses can’t wait.
“It’s my busiest weekend of the year,” said Larry Block, owner of the Block Party clothing store, housed in the old A Different Light bookstore building at 8853 Santa Monica Blvd. “We are loading up on all things Pride, from flags to buttons to magnets to stickers. And of course clothing. Everybody is in the Pride spirit, people come from all over and leave with all things gay.”
Next door at Mickey’s bar, the staff is also expecting good business. “We should do very well. Our customers are very generous,” said Mary Ann, Mickey’s general manager. “We bring on extra staff. We’re open longer hours; we close later and open earlier to accommodate everyone. It’s a very busy time. It’s a very fun time.”
West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Genevieve Morrill says the Pride festivities are one of the largest economic generators for the city. “Four hundred thousand attendees—it’s a gift we’ve been given,” she said. “Area businesses have always done well during Pride weekend, and I expect they will again this year.”
According to the CSW report, each person spends an average of $52 per day during Pride weekend. That sums up to $1.4 million spent on lodging, $6.5 million spent on meals out and $5.5 million spent on drinks. An additional $4.1 million is spent on shopping/souvenirs, while $2.5 million is spent on transportation and parking.
In terms of tax revenue, the city of West Hollywood will reap $229,000 in lodging and retail sales tax, while Los Angeles will receive $92,000 in taxes.
But beyond all those figures and statistics, Pride is about freedom and being true to oneself, Morrill said. “Pride is good for people who may still be questioning their sexuality. They get here and may come to terms with who they really are,” she said.
For Mary Ann, “It’s especially fun to see guys who are coming in from smaller towns that might not be as open as LA or Chicago or New York. They come here and see guys walking down the street holding hands and they’re so surprised. It’s just another one of those reasons why gay Pride is so important.”