Chris Baldwin is a recognized figure in West Hollywood, and when WEHO TIMES learned she is a Producer for Women’s Freedom Fest/Dyke March this year, we connected with her to learn more. She is the Founding President, current VP and COO of The L-Project, the lesbian non-profit 501(c)3 organization, owner of Fight Goddess Fitness (and my personal Trainer!), and a Navy Vet.
The L Project is bringing the 2023 Women’s Freedom Festival to the West Hollywood Pride Street Fair Community Stage on Saturday, June 3 from 12-6 pm. In this exclusive interview with WEHO TIMES, Chris talks about what we can expect at the all-inclusive and multicultural event that’s returning for a second year to celebrate an amazing lineup of LGBTQ+BIPOC artists for WeHo Pride.
Tell us a bit about The L Project and how you came to be the Producers of Women’s Freedom Festival and Dyke March?
I began DJing and producing events at the age of 18 while serving in the military in Rota, Spain. And I love to throw a good party! When The L-Project Founder, Elisabeth Sanberg asked me to serve as her Founding President, I accepted the role so we could create what we wanted to see in the women’s community outside of the almost non-existent lesbian bar scene. Then the last lesbian bar in WeHo closed – The Palms, which is now Sprouts, was gone forever. Our first fundraising event in 2016 was Frida Fest, an art and music festival celebrating the life and legacy of Frida Kahlo, and showcasing emerging BIPOC artists. The City of West Hollywood supported that event with a co-sponsorship and they’ve supported our organization ever since. It took us some time to grow into the brand and the organization we are today, and we could not have done this without the wisdom and guidance of Madonna Cacciatore, former Executive Director at LA Pride, Tara Schroetter, our Marketing Director, and our team of passionate, dedicated Board members, past and present.
What is this year’s theme for the festival?
Art. Music. Protest.
What is the significance of this theme?
Our beautiful LGBTQ+ community is under attack by corrupt right wing extremists posing as politicians. We must come together to uplift and celebrate each other as these right wingers try to tear us apart.
You lobbied hard for the last few years to move the events from Friday night to Saturday. Can you talk about why that was important and what steps you took to get that change?
To maximize Dyke March participation, it’s important that programming for our community happens on a day and time when people can get into West Hollywood. Traditionally, around the country the Dyke March is held the night before the main Pride parade on Sunday. It’s the perfect pairing because the majority of pride attendees are men so having a march to protest the patriarchy and to elevate the voices of feminine identified and two spirit people.
What events do you have planned for this year?
Our official WeHo Pride events are the Women’s Freedom Festival, the Dyke March and the Rainbow Family Day Picnic at Plummer Park. We’ve been hosting fundraisers at The Naughty Pig to showcase the artists who will be performing for Women’s Freedom Festival. Our official after party on June 3rd will be at the Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel, hosted by our co-promoters Hawtmess Productions and Fever Dream LA.
How did you come to the choices you’ve made in terms of performers and featured artists?
Representation and talent. The majority of pride events book allies instead of LGBTQ+ folks to headline their shows. We believe LGBTQ+ BIPOC women and two spirit creatives should headline our events. The vendors who we contract with are primarily LGBTQ+BIPOC women whenever possible. As part of our mission to support emerging artists, it’s extremely important to us to circulate dollars back into the community. While our board is all volunteer, we’re not asking anyone to perform or work for free.
What do you hope attendees get out of this year’s festival?
This year, our stage will be on Santa Monica Blvd at the WeHo Pride Community Street Fair stage. Tickets for all of our WeHo Pride events are free so we’re expecting to sell out before June 3rd! Women are taking taking over Boystown!
How do you plan to engage the community to participate in this year’s programming?
Our fellow pride producers are rock stars and are truly focused on building community! We are so excited to cross promote our events with Hawtmess Productions, Fever Dream LA, Cherry Bomb WeHo, Queer Prom and Queer Events LA.
What event are you most excited about during Pride Month in West Hollywood?
Women’s Freedom Festival!!
Moving forward, how would you like to see the festival evolve?
My goal as COO is to continue to grow our operating budget and expand our footprint beyond West Hollywood. This will provide us an opportunity to support the work of more LGBTQ+BIPOC creatives while providing desperately needed resources to those who need it.