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    Bob Crow, an LGBTQ leader and last living founder of Long Beach Pride, dies at 78
    • September 29, 2023

    Bob Crow, a local Long Beach LGBTQ legend and the last living founder of the city’s annual Pride Parade, has died. He was 78.

    State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, announced his death on social media on Friday, Sept. 29. Tony Almeida-Crow, his husband, confirmed the icon’s death at their Long Beach home in a Friday interview.

    Crow died of Stage 4 lung cancer, Almeida-Crow said.

    He had been diagnosed with the disease in 2018 and underwent several rounds of surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments. After those treatments failed, he entered an experimental clinical trial earlier this year.

    “We spent 29 years together — 10 years of legal marriage — and I was here with him in the end,” Almeida-Crow said on Friday. “He was a fighter for the gay community and he kept fighting all the way until the end.”

    Crow, along with Judith Doyle and Marylin Barlow, founded Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Inc. — now simply known as Long Beach Pride — in 1983. The nonprofit then organized the city’s inaugural Pride Parade & Festival the following year.

    The trio launched what, over the past four decades, has become one of the largest and most popular LGBTQ Pride celebrations in the country. The Long Beach Pride nonprofit celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

    “Today, we lost a Long Beach legend, a pioneer who paved the way for generations to express their authentic lives,” Gonzalez wrote on Twitter. “(Crow) was an example of dedication and leadership that brought equality and diversity to many communities throughout Long Beach and California.”

    Crow himself was actively involved in organizing the festival until last year, when he decided to finally take a break to tend to his health issues. And he was the last living founder of Long Beach Pride until his death on Friday.

    Co-founders Barlow and Doyle died in 2015 and 2022, respectively.

    “Bob was beloved in our community and was an incredible leader,” Rep. Robert Garcia, who represents California’s 42nd Congressional District and formerly served as Long Beach’s mayor, said in a Friday statement. “His work to start and grow Long Beach Pride will always be celebrated and remembered. I will miss Bob’s friendship and mentorship. It’s a huge loss.”

    Bob Crow was born on Aug. 29, 1945, in Alabama. He lived in Alabama for much of his early life — but didn’t come out until he moved to Mobile, which had more of a gay scene than any other city he’d lived in up until then.

    In Mobile, Crow worked as a florist and met a boyfriend who wanted to move out to California — so they did.

    But Crow and his then-partner broke up shortly after the move to Long Beach, which, he said previously, allowed him to meet other people and start learning more about the city’s gay community.

    He later met Barlow while working at a bar in Long Beach called The Executive Suite after two floral shops he’d been working at closed.

    The Executive Suite’s owner, Fred Kovelle, gave the three Pride founders a sum of money to work on their idea for a Pride parade specific to Long Beach — which they’d come up with after realizing a bulk of the floats in the Los Angeles Pride Parade were from Long Beach anyways.

    “(Kovelle) gave me a grant to start with,” Crow told the Southern California News Group previously. “I got Judi (Judith Doyle) involved, then we put the word out to a lot of people to come to a meeting at The Executive Suite. So we met every Wednesday afternoon upstairs at the bar — and in less than a year, we had a festival.”

    The first Long Beach Pride Parade took place along Shoreline Drive in 1984, a year after Crow, Doyle and Barlow established Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Inc. — which was recently redubbed Long Beach Pride to be more inclusive — the nonprofit that would organize the city’s pride parades and festivals over the next four decades.

    About 600 people marched in the inaugural Long Beach Pride Parade, which lasted about 30 minutes, according to Q Voice News, an LGBTQ news publication. Nearly 5,000 people showed up to the two-day festival along Shoreline Drive —  with a few protestors shouting their disagreement.

    Now, 40 years after its founding, Pride has changed in more ways than just its name — but its significance to LGBTQ people and the city remains just as large.

    Thousands of people attend the annual event, a crucial expression of self that moved to August this year. Pride’s importance has come to the forefront even more in recent years as the LGBTQ community continues to confront a dramatic spike in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation.

    “(Crow) devoted his life to advancing the causes of equality, justice and dignity for all people,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “(His) legacy has made Long Beach a better place for everyone. His absence will be felt deeply by many.”

    Crow received the Person of the Year award from the Consolidated Association of Pride in 2018 for his decades of advocacy for the LGBTQ community and his continued commitment to Long Beach Pride.

    He, Doyle and Barlow also received keys to the city from former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster in 2013.

    Foster actually presided over Crow and Almeida’s marriage in 2013, which took place during a special ceremony at Long Beach’s Harvey Milk Promenade Park shortly after Proposition 8, a voter-approved ballot measure that would have outlawed gay marriage was overturned by a federal court.

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    ​ Orange County Register