WEHO PRIDE STORIES: Jimmy Palmieri – “I Made a Bunch of Friends”

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Jimmy Palmieri (center) and friends

Jimmy Palmieri looks back at his very first Pride weekend in the City of West Hollywood as part of our WeHo Pride Stories for Pride Month 2021.

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The year was 1994. I left New York and a 14 year relationship behind to start my life over in West Hollywood. I had no friends, job, family or boyfriend. I was living in West Hollywood for like four or five months when my first WeHo pride rolled around. I wanted to go, but I was a little nervous going there all alone. I didn’t really know anybody. I was used to New York guys and didn’t really know what West Hollywood guys would be like.

I just put it in my head that I had to start over and that’s what I did, I went to pride alone.

Jimmy Palmieri (center) at LA Pride in West Hollywood – 1994

I wore what you see in the picture, a Calvin Klein t-shirt, blue jeans and I had a leather strap around my neck. I think those are John Lennon Imagine sunglasses. I wore the sunglasses because I didn’t want to make eye contact. I was really, really nervous. I never missed a pride in New York. I had a huge crowd and never went to pride alone.

West Hollywood was different back then. It was grittier, which I liked since I came from New York. It wasn’t as sterile as it is now. I like West Hollywood now, but it was just different back then. If you walked towards Hollywood, you still saw hustlers on the street on Santa Monica Boulevard, it was very different. I watched it get cleaned up over the years.

I guess because I was nervous, I was just walking straight ahead, and these two guys pulled me over and they told their friend to take our picture. Those two became my friends, even to this day. I met so many people along the way to Pride. I also met my first WeHo boyfriend somewhere in the festival.

I remember spending hours at the Festival. I went home and took a shower, and then went back later that night. I don’t remember what the dance floor was like back then. It certainly wasn’t what we have now. I just remember dancing and I made a bunch of friends. Some of them were the wrong kind of friends, but it certainly was a lot of fun and a segue to understanding West Hollywood life.

What I remember most about the festival is this guy that kept staring at me. I thought he was really cute. I don’t know, I just went over and I kissed him and we became boyfriends. I was really shy, but I need to get over it.

I convinced myself I was going to have a great time at my first Pride in West Hollywood, and I did. I didn’t feel alone at Pride anymore.

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HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!!! This is here is a call to all of our colorful readers who celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride. Share your Pride stories with us. Bring is your happy, your love, your family, your friends, your shirtless, your drunk, your outfits, your best, and your worst; bring us your first pride event, your parade, your festival, your activism, your meaning, your evolution, your visibility, your dignity, or whatever you want to share about pride. We want to hear your stories. We want to document your history. Please allow us to share your pride.

Email your stories/pictures to editor@wehotimes.com

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Jimmy Palmieri is the founder of the Tweakers Project which offers support to recovering meth users. He is the co-founder of #BOOM!, the sober New Year's Eve party, and #SIZZLE!, the sober area within the yearly LA Pride festival. He is also a member of the West Hollywood Human Services Commission.
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