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Inside LA’s Big Gay Super Bowl party, likely the largest in the world

The Los Angeles party, hosted by Brian Pendleton, raises money for Camp Lightbulb.

Brian Pendleton has hosted the Big Gay Super Bowl Party since 2000. It’s grown to one of the biggest gay Super Bowl house parties - if not the biggest - in America.
Brian Pendleton

What started in the year 2000 at a house in Los Angeles, south of Pico, has in almost a quarter-century blossomed into quite likely the largest gay Super Bowl house party in the world.

Hosted by philanthropist Brian Pendleton, along with a team of supporters, the party has become the top Super Bowl destination for many gay men, as well as others, in the Los Angeles area looking to watch the game and, of course, the much-hyped halftime show. This year’s party will be the biggest yet.

I turned back my media pass to this year’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, just to attend Pendleton’s always-memorable bash.

“This party is for everyone in our community,” Pendleton said about why opens his home to the masses every year. “It’s really important to me that people get to come to this. I was a kid who didn’t get invited to a lot of parties, so I’ve always made it my goal to make sure that no matter who you’re friends with or where you live, or what economic level you’re in, you know and feel that you’re welcome here.”

Of course, when you’re hosting a party of this magnitude with a wide-open invitation, there is the matter of an RSVP list. Even with a gorgeous backyard, Pendleton’s home is only so big. Everyone can join the RSVP list, but only confirmed RSVPs can show up on game day.

That list for 2024 was capped in a couple days with 1,000 RSVPs and another 100 people on the wait list.

To accommodate that many guests, he said there will be 14 televisions showing the game, with a viewing surprise for everyone who makes it.

“It is a lot of people,” he said. “We’ve upped the security and the bars and the porta potties, so we’re ready.”

Of course, putting on a Super Bowl party of this magnitude takes a team, not the least of which is Pendleton’s right-hand-man, Daniel Jordan.

“He makes it happen.”

Also, legends of the L.A. gay scene Fred Arens and Jason Duguay — well-known as Fred & Jason (or Frason), in part for their famous annual Halloweenie and Pool Watch parties — are also long-time co-hosts of the party.

And of course the party wouldn’t happen without an alcohol sponsor: Southern Glazer’s, thanks to the support of Leslie Barclay.

On top of just being a great time, Pendleton is cognizant of helping others in the community. So the party also serves as a fundraiser for Camp Lightbulb, which hosts summer camps in Provincetown, New York and Los Angeles for LGBTQ teens who may be struggling to find or express their identity.

“Our whole focus is bringing these kids into vibrant queer communities,” said Camp Lightbulb Founding Director Puck Markham. “This party goes to underwriting part of the camp in Los Angeles in July.”

That camp will bring 25-35 LGBTQ youth from across North America and Europe to L.A., where the kids will engage in camp activities like arts and crafts and a scavenger hunt, attend a drag show, meet celebrities and hear from LGBTQ dignitaries, all designed to empower them in their own lives back home.

The party will raise tens of thousands of dollars for Camp Lightbulb. You can support Camp Lightbulb by donating here.

While the vast majority of people across the country won’t be entertaining a thousand guests on Sunday, Pendleton has two pieces of advice for anyone looking to host a successful gay Super Bowl party:

“Have good views of the halftime show, and have good drinks.”

He will have a section of the party with a dedicated TV for guys looking to watch every play of the game and hear the commentary, but he said the vast majority are just looking for a fun afternoon and to watch the halftime show.

“Gaga Bowl was one of our biggest years,” he said.

Some Instagram memories from the last decade of the Big Gay Super Bowl Party: