While San Diego Pride’s much-anticipated annual rally, parade, and festival are just days away, for North County residents and visitors, we already got a taste of Pride in June with record-setting participation – in more ways than one.
Notably, The North County LGBTQ Resource Center’s Pride by the Beach attracted an estimated 20,000 participants to its family and pet friendly, drug and alcohol-free event. The festival featured more than 100 vendors and a day packed with performances, speeches, and entertainment.
The stage was extra full when time came to call for elected officials to join Center staff and Pride volunteers on stage.
In that moment, Max Disposti, founder and executive director of the Center, emphasized in a social media post that, “The biggest joy for me is to see our staff and volunteers with their heart full of joy, the love and support for each other and the community, a dream come true after years of hard labor and determination.”
But pride and the community’s labor were in full force the whole month of June, not just at their June 11 Pride festival in Oceanside, serving all the north county communities.
Record-Number Pride Month Municipal Proclamations
Significantly, this year saw the most proclamation issued for Pride Month, in recognition of the Center’s work. This year, The County of San Diego, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, Vista, and Encinitas issued proclamations. And for the very first time, The City of San Marcos issues a beautiful proclamation as well.
These seven proclamations stand as a testament to the efforts to increase visibility and build community in our coastal and inland north county communities. In 2019, only Oceanside and Carlsbad issued proclamations.
Additionally, Palomar College, under the direction of Pride Center Coordinator, Dr. Abbie Cory, raised the Pride Flag on campus for the first time, as did Oceanside Unified School District with a flag raising ceremony at its offices.
In Vista, Councilmember Corinna Contreras, who also serves on the North County LGBTQ Resource Center Board of Directors, introduced the proposal to raise the Pride Progress flag, which passed unanimously, in an emotional meeting with many speakers celebrating the progress towards inclusivity.
This support throughout the month underscores the 15 years of community building and progress that Pride by the Beach has helped bring about through their annual celebration. It also continues themes from the Center’s 10-year anniversary gala, in October 2021, which celebrated ten years since they first opened their doors to serve the community.
While many will celebrate these accomplishments, especially for those from these communities, some may still argue that these proclamations are just empty words which give politicians an opportunity to grandstand without actually helping our community.
While a proclamation, by itself, may not create the systemic change we seek to create in the world, those proclamations serve multiple purposes.
Seeking and receiving a proclamation creates a platform for queer folks to speak before municipal bodies and accept the proclamations while also sharing why this is so personal to them. In Escondido, Jet Finnell, Pride volunteer leader, shared about growing up in the area and never believing they would have such an opportunity before the council. Disposti, Pride Director Lisa Nava, and I each also got to speak at both in-person and virtual council chambers to accept these proclamations.
This process of working with elected officials and staff to draft and issue these proclamations helps build working relationships which can be revisited to advance other issues, ensure elected official participation in community events, and to hold them accountable if they fail to live up to the values they espoused during Pride Month.
Most importantly, proclamations create and hold Queer space in places where our community has historically been shut out or even when allowed in, only tolerated.
These moments are our time to reflect on progress, locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally, while reaffirming our commitment to do more to support LGBTQIA+ rights at home and abroad.
Despite these moments of progress, we know these steps are made along the landscape of ongoing, relentless attacks on our community, especially our most vulnerable, our Trans youth. While record number local proclamations were issued for Pride Month here locally, we know that nationally, record-number anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced and are making their way to codify hate and discrimination in school boards and state legislative bodies around the country.
Now, with the dismantling of nationally recognized abortion protections, we understand even more clearly the connections in our collective fight for bodily autonomy and hope that more folks than ever are galvanized to ensure representation and inclusion at every table.
And we must fight every fight, local or national, for inclusion because we can’t take for granted that our progress is linear.