The Long Beach Pride Parade & Festival, the city’s popular and iconic LGBTQ celebration, will return for its 41st iteration this weekend — albeit, with an unprecedented change.

For the first time in its four-decade history, the Long Beach Pride Parade has a different organizer: The city.

The nonprofit Long Beach Pride founded the annual celebration and had hosted every previous iteration. But earlier this year, the nonprofit asked the city for help with the parade. The city ultimately agreed to pick up the estimated $130,000 tab and organize the parade, which will take place from 10 am to noon Sunday, May 19, along Ocean Boulevard.

The nonprofit is still organizing the two-day festival, which will take place along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and Sunday. Thousands of people are expected to descend on the city’s waterfront to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

The city announced in February that it would pay for and organize the parade. The previous month, Long Beach Pride requested financial help to put on this year’s event as it works to restructure and bounce back from several recent challenges.

The coronavirus pandemic, for example, shut down annual Pride celebrations — which were done virtually instead — for two years.

But Long Beach Pride has faced several other financial challenges in recent years, dating back to 2018, when the nonprofit asked the city to waive various fees required to put on the event — since it had a nearly $100,000 loss during the previous year’s festival.

Pandemic further contributed to those financial concernsLong Beach Pride president Tonya Martin said previously, noting that crowd turnout at both the 2022 and 2023 festivals were smaller than usual.

Another challenge this year, organizers said, was the quicker turnaround. The event returned to its original May timeframe this year after taking place in August last year and in July in 2022.

“Long Beach Pride is very proud to be a part of such a great city as Long Beach,” Long Beach Pride President Tonya Martin, who did not return a request for comment on Friday, May 10, said in a Feb. 26 statement. “We are truly grateful that the city is stepping up to support this parade so that it continues to be the beacon of light that it has always been for our community.”

The city, for its part, agreed to put on this year’s parade in hopes that the one-year break will offer Long Beach Pride enough time to restructure and prepare to take back organizational responsibility for the parade in the future.

To that end, this year’s festival will be “scaled down,” Martin said. But Long Beach Pride is still hoping to put on an exciting event for the community.

The theme for this year’s Pride celebration, according to the nonprofit, is “rhythm of the rainbow,” a celebration of the LGBTQ community’s relationship to and influence on music — and the art form’s importance as a tool of advocacy for the community.

Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation have been increasing in the United States over the past several years.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in the nation, even declared a state of emergency last year to highlight the spike in anti-LGBTQ sentiments nationwide.

More than 500 anti-LGBTQ state bills — 200 of which specifically targeted the transgender community — were introduced during the 2023 legislative session, according to the HRC. More than 70 of those became law, with another 75 OK’d so far in 2024.

“These provisions attempt to limit access to best-practice gender affirming care, give businesses and individuals a license to discriminate, and even ban drag shows and Pride flags on government buildings,” the HRC said. “While each rider varies their content, they are all consistent in posing a threat to the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals everywhere.”

The increasingly violent political and social climate targeting LGBTQ individuals has also had an impact on Pride celebrations — with advocates and attendees alike citing the event’s return to its roots as a form of protest and activism in recent years.

“Despite progress, new barriers emerge. In 2024, we arm ourselves with our greatest weapon and ally: Music,” Martin said in a news release. “We pay homage to the beats that have strengthened our hearts and souls. Our music is a powerful tool against the challenges we face, and with it, we will prevail.”

This year’s Pride festival, meanwhile, will feature two headlining performances on Saturday and Sunday.

Rapper Saucy Santana — best known for his singles “Walk” and “Here We Go” — will perform on Saturday and will also be the famous grand marshal during the parade.

He gained popularity on social media, with those hits sparking viral challenges on TikTok in 2021, according to Long Beach Pride, and he later released a song with pop icon Madonna.

“His music, celebrated for its empowering messages and dance-worthy beats, aligns perfectly with this year’s theme,” Martin said in a news release, “highlighting the uniting power of music within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.”

Sunday’s festivities will close out with a show from IVY Queen, a Puerto Rican performer largely recognized as one of the pioneers of the reggaeton genre — earning the performer the moniker “The Queen of Raggaeton,” according to Long Beach Pride

Some of IVY Queen’s hits include “ Quiero Bailar ” and “ La Vida es Así,” — with many of songs featuring a blend of Latin rhythms and reggae influences, the nonprofit said.

Other performers planned to hit the stage throughout the weekend include drag queen Valentina — known for appearances on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — country singer Reyna Roberts and DJ Irene.

Besides live music, the festival will also feature more than 150 arts-and-crafts vendors, drag shows and plenty of options for food and drink.