By the community. For the community.
WHAT IS DTLA PROUD?
DTLA Proud is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to strengthen and empower the local LGBTQ+ & ally community in Downtown Los Angeles through visibility, volunteerism, partnerships and events; we are committed to celebrating everyone’s story, spreading optimism, growing our community and expanding our definition of diversity. Founded by a grassroots group of local residents, business owners, community leaders and nightlife promoters, we were born from the idea that together we could create an all-inclusive festival that represents the diverse LGBTQ+ population that lives, works and plays in the thriving heart of the city of Los Angeles. We are #DTLAPROUD
Co-Founder, Board Member & Vice President
Meet Eric Solis: He works as an architectural Project Designer with HNTB on some of the most high-profile infrastructure projects in LA including the new 6th Street Bridge and LAX People Mover, and he has a passion for community events.
Going to college at USC in the early 2000’s, I grew to love the architecture and urban vibe of Downtown Los Angeles, but it wasn’t really a destination back then. I’d go out to WeHo on occasion with my college friends, but I always craved something different and more authentic. As warehouse parties became more popular in Downtown and more artists and creative people starting moving in, DTLA quickly became a new hotspot for underground and off-the-radar queer parties like Shits n’ Giggles, Rhonda, Mustache Mondays, and Summertramp. It was around the early 2010’s when I first moved to DTLA and began to notice a full-fledged queer community starting to take root in the neighborhood – gay couples holding hands while walking down the street had become a very common sight. 2015 was the pivotal year when new gay bars Precinct, Redline, and Mattachine all opened within months of each other, and LA had given birth to a new gayborhood seemingly overnight. I soon befriended the bar owners, and that’s how I first heard about the vision for an LGBTQ+ pride festival in DTLA. At the time I was volunteering for Night on Broadway, one of LA’s largest free festivals, so I already had an understanding of what it takes to put on a huge event and how to bring communities together. Using my background in architectural design and event planning, I stepped in to help produce the very first DTLA Proud Festival and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s hard to believe DTLA Proud Festival is already celebrating its 3rd year! It’s been amazing to see the incredible growth of the festival, the organization and the DTLA LGBTQ+ community first-hand over the past few years. I feel so PROUD to be a part of it all, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our blossoming gayborhood.
Co-Founder, Board Member & Creative Director
Meet Andrés Rigal: Renowned LA nightlife promoter, he is also the creator of Summertramp and co-owner of the upcoming queer DTLA venue Bar Menagerie and French Exit.
When I first created SummerTramp (many Suns ago) the Downtown Los Angeles that we all know now was still in its infancy. The year was 2010 and West Hollywood was the undisputed center the LGBTQ universe. Other than a few pioneering parties (thank you Shits n’ Giggles, Rhonda and Mustache Mondays) the eastside et al was relatively quiet, few and far in-between for the queer community at large.
Back then I was new to Queer nightlife and I was surprised how divided the scene was. Westside stayed west and Eastside stayed east – rarely did they mix. So when I first started SummerTramp I made it my intention to program with all sides of Los Angeles. A safe space that celebrates unity within the community where EVERYONE can let their hair down, take their clothes off, be themselves and ultimately raise their flag without any judgment.
It’s been over 8 years since I first slid down that slide… During that time I’ve have had the pleasure of witnessing what I feel has been a renaissance in the queer community with Downtown L.A. leading the way. Never before have I felt a stronger unification in the LGBTQ+ community than I do today and it makes sense that we’re celebrating this unification in the flourishing heart of Los Angeles.
Just like SummerTramp, DTLA Proud is all-inclusive accessible festival that represents the diverse LGBTQ+ population. Ultimately both these gatherings share the same ethos, the same intention of bringing people together in a celebration of love and unity. While SummerTramp has always been anchored in providing these sentiments to the community, DTLA Proud brings this about on a grander scale, operating as a 100% non-profit with the sole intention of bringing awareness to and for our community in the ever-growing landscape of DTLA.
Board Member and Community Director
Meet Milton Smith: He lives in Long Beach and plays in DTLA. Also, he describes himself as a solution focused community activist; he has spent over 17 years working for and volunteering with various community-based organizations.
After nearly 10 years of living my authentic life while navigating adulthood as a black gay man in New York City, I returned home to Los Angeles hoping to find a large diverse LGBTQ+ community similar to the one I had left behind. Not able to find such a community I began volunteering my time to support the pre Prop 8 initiative Let California Ring as it worked to ensure the right of all Californians to be able to marry whom they love. While the loss at the ballot was extremely disappointing, it ignited in me a greater sense of passion to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ people. When I learned of the development of a new organization representing the diverse population of LGBTQ+ people who live, work, and play downtown, I knew I had to be involved. I’m proud to be a member of this community because our resiliency and diversity helps in making the city a better place for all.
Board Member & Director of Stage Production
Meet Bella Barkow: When she’s not donating her time to philanthropic LGBTQ+ events she’s busy running Bella B. Productions, a full service events company.
Hailing from the great white north, our tolkien Canadian has been working with DTLA Proud since year one. She arrived in Los Angeles 7 years ago and quickly made her way to the center of the LGBTQ events world. Because of her involvement with the rising DTLA gay scene, she knew there was a need for more inclusive safe spaces downtown. Bella donates her time to the DTLA Proud Board of Directors because she believes in their mission and their goal of creating an LGBTQ center in Downtown Los Angeles. At the festival, you can find Bella running around backstage all weekend making sure the show goes off without a hitch.