Fernando Lopez, San Diego Pride
Why is San Diego Pride in July? Strategy for our movement is the short answer.
In 1969, the Stonewall Riots against legal police brutality toward our community inspired organizers in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to hold “Christopher Street Liberation Day Marches” in 1970 — the origins of Pride events as we know them today. As Pride events began to sprout up in more cities across the country and the world, they evolved into more than just marches — they became opportunities for us to make community connections while building political power.
Back when all Prides attempted to be on the same weekend in June, it limited our LGBTQ organizations’ abilities to be in every city, to build supporter lists, and to grow our organizations. Pride organizers began to talk about how we could better coordinate our events and in turn better serve our communities. In 1981, San Diego Pride board member Doug Moore helped to create InterPride, the international association of Prides, and in 1987, regional associations formed Consolidated Association of Prides, Incorporated (CAPI). 1990 San Diego Pride was nearly rained out. With Prides already moving to different dates, it helped make our choice easier, and the decision was made to leave “June gloom” behind for the warmer and sunnier month of July.
These regional and international networks of Pride organizations still meet once a year for the CAPI and InterPride conferences respectively. We bring together our movement’s activists and organizations to share strategies, political pull, resources, and best practices, and this year we’ll be hosting one of the largest and most regionally diverse CAPI conferences in a long time.
From Thursday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, March 1, San Diego Pride will be hosting the 2020 CAPI Conference at the DoubleTree in Mission Valley. Around 150 Pride organizers and professionals will take part in four days of movement building, networking, and education from 63 presenters at 46 workshops and events. From within the U.S., organizations will be attending from as far away as Florida, Massachusetts, Washington, and Texas. We will even have Prides coming from Montreal, Canada, and all across Mexico.
Plenary Sessions will address important issues facing our community. Rich Segal, from Lambda Legal, will present on the upcoming Title VII case before the Supreme Court. Brian Silva, from the National Equality Action Team, will address our ability to nationally mobilize grassroots organizing as we face a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation around the country. San Diego Pride’s own Education & Advocacy Manager Jen LaBarbera will speak on how Prides can engage in nonpartisan get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure our community shows up every Election Day.
Workshops at the conference attempt to find a balance of practical support on subjects like legal protections, budgeting, SOPs, and parade logistics while also inspiring our social justice side. Just some of the workshops I’m most excited for are the following:
- Facing Racism in the Rainbow: POC inclusivity and empowerment
- Disability Justice + Pride Justice: Creating accessible Pride events
- Embody Pride: Prides as a tool for LGBTQ mental, physical and sexual health
- LGBTQ+ Youth Pride: Meaningful youth engagement at Pride
- Know the T!: Trans-inclusive LGBTQ Pride and Trans Pride events
- A Space of Our Own: Building inclusive LGBTQ+ women’s spaces
- Silver Pride: Ensuring we welcome and celebrate the Stonewall generation
Pride events from large metropolitan areas to small rural communities are still some of the most powerful and meaningful spaces our community has. They are often the first time and place a newly out LGBTQ person goes to discover found-family, community, and even who they truly are. Prides represent an opportunity to be free. How we approach that responsibility matters. While many may still think of Pride events as nothing more than a party, I will challenge two things: 1) Civic spaces where LGBTQ people can celebrate while being 100% themselves are few and far between, and so fighting for and working toward their existence is a social justice issue, and 2) If you go beyond the surface of our beautiful rainbows and sparkling glitter, you will find breadth and depth of meaningful education, civic engagement, and direct service that build up our community and movement.
It is a huge honor to be a small part of the continuum of collaborative work that began decades ago. I am beyond proud of the incredible work our staff, board, and volunteers have done to showcase our beautiful city and underscore our Pride 365 model of civic engagement. I’m so looking forward to hosting the representatives from 45 cities from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as we learn from one another for what promises to be another challenging year for our community, but I am faithful that “Together We Rise.”