Yes, I resigned from San Diego Pride after Law Enforcement was banned from participation. I was with San Diego Pride for nine years and served as the Medical Director. I traveled to larger Pride events to gain experience and came back to San Diego with knowledge of “what not to do” so we can make our event more safe and successful. Myself, with the help of my team, created an organization that is unique to only San Diego Pride. In doing this, we were able to save Pride thousands of dollars and reduce the impact on our emergency services and community. It is my belief that since we were hosting a great event, it is our responsibility to care for our guests in every way possible. We do not release people to the police who are unable to care for themselves, just as we do not overwhelm our local hospitals. We take care of our own. We created a comprehensive medical plan, erect a field hospital staffed with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, created emergency response carts to curb any delay in care. Our medical team can contact and treat over 800 patients during Pride weekend, all in-house and for free. My team of over 120 volunteers and community partners, love our community and serve hundreds of patients every year. We do this not for monetary gain, we do it for love.
San Diego Pride has transformed over the years in to a celebration of diversity. One where all are welcomed, where we are all inclusive, and where we bring all walks of life to the table to celebrate our pride, diversity, our community and our friends and family around the world. We do not turn anyone away.
San Diego Pride, at the hands of Executive Director Fernando Lopez, have drawn a harsh line in the sand. He has directly ostracized, uninvited, and abandoned our LGBT brothers, sisters, allies and supporters. This is unacceptable. With the stroke of his pen, he banned San Diego Law Enforcement from showing their Pride at OUR event. Not only has he abandoned members and supporters of our community, he has suggested that they be closeted, and march with no identifiable markings as to who they are. Isn’t that exactly what we fought against? Are we to ask that of our brothers, sisters, allies and ourselves? We have worked decades so we no longer need to march with bags over our heads. Yet that is exactly what he is demanding from those sworn to protecting our community. Most residents of our community are proud of our LGBT Law Enforcement officers.
Leaders, activists and advocates within our community have worked decades to improve and build the relationship of our Law Enforcement Partners and our government. How can we allow an individual to rid decades of progress? Is not Pride about inclusion? Rather than drawing a line in the sand, we have the ability to pull resources and leaders together. We have the ability to say, here are our problems, here are our fears, let us help you improve our community, let us help you bridge the divide.
One rational for such a divisive move was individual fear. It is Pride’s mission to improve the lives of others and our community. Pride should be asking, “How may we help you overcome this fear so that you don’t have to live your life in fear?” Let’s overcome this together. Another opportunity for progress missed. This is a tactic taken out of the Trump playbook. Divide! These divisive actions are that of failed and poor leadership. Leadership is not telling people what they want to hear or making easy choices. Leadership is telling the people what they must hear, working hard to bridge divides, not creating them. Leadership is bringing everyone to the table to discuss a path for forward progress.
Fernando Lopez unilaterally decided to remove our LGBT Law Enforcement officers from marching and celebrating their pride. This then was approved by the San Diego Pride Board of Directors. This was done without a public forum or public input from the community-who they claim to serve. Fernando failed to consider the impact on our LBGT Officers, especially those who identify as People-of-Color.
Fernando and the Pride Board have violated their own Mission, Vision and Values:
Mission: Fostering pride, equality, and respect for ALL LGBT communities locally, nationally and globally. VIOLATED.
Vision: A world free of prejudice and bias. VIOLATED.
-Diversity: Being inclusive, accepting and respectful of the differences of people who share our values. VIOLATED.
-Respect: Valuing others by accepting individuality and demonstrating courtesy and mutual regard. VIOLATED.
Fernando and the Pride Board must be held accountable for their disregard for the community and bold-divisive actions. As community we stand for love, which is the message we have been trying to convey to the world for decades. This move to exclude law enforcement is not a result of the current civil unrest, but rather an agenda which has been presented in the past. This decision feels opportunistic and capitalizing on the current political climate.
We as a community must come together to love one another, to speak out on injustice and to coordinate and promote progress and change. We must be there to help build each other upward, to listen, to care and to overcome whatever is thrown our way. That is something to be proud of. That is how we can serve our community, with Pride.