As we face unprecedented times, the concept of Pride takes on a new meaning.
Since COVID-19 has made the future of mass gatherings, including the San Diego Pride Parade, uncertain, people have reached out to our office to share why Pride is important to them, and in some cases, to ask why Pride has been “cancelled.”
To us, Pride is about more than the parade. Pride is about the sense of community that it fosters. Pride is about the spirit of togetherness that people from all walks of life can share when they come together to affirm one another, to reflect on the victories we have achieved and to look forward to the many strides we still have left to make. In this sense, Pride can be celebrated from anywhere by anyone. This year, as we celebrate Pride from the comfort of our own homes to protect each others health and well-being, we have so many victories and accomplishments to celebrate, and so many more to look forward to in the coming years.
We kicked off 2020 by adding San Diego to the growing list of U.S. cities with a dedicated rainbow crosswalk at Catwalk on the Crosswalk, right under the Hillcrest Pride Flag in the company of some of our region’s greatest LGBTQ+ leaders. We also joined the community in celebrating the landmark Supreme Court decision affirming that LGBTQ+ workers cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Weeks later, we brought together many of those same leaders to establish the framework for what would become the Leon L. Williams Human Relations Commission, a multidimensional body of community voices that will play an instrumental part in guiding County policy. By bringing voices of the LGBTQ+ community — including Black and Brown voices, transgender voices, indigenous voices, Asian-American and Pacific Islander voices, Jewish and Muslim voices, immigrant voices and young voices — to the decision-making table, we expect to bring forward more policies that serve the immediate needs of the community, and begin to address the inequities that have led so many of these communities to be marginalized and underrepresented.
In another important step, on the long and winding path to justice, this year we introduced a package of Racial Justice and Law Enforcement Realignment policies to the Board of Supervisors, all of which were passed in June 2020. In our current climate, plagued by racial injustice, unfair police practices and increasing social divisions, it is our duty to do everything in our power to get the County working for everyone. By enacting reforms for stronger and more independent oversight over law enforcement practices, establishing an Office of Equity and Racial Justice, and creating and deploying Mobile Crisis Response Teams to respond to non-violent behavioral health crises, we are following the community’s lead to make sure that, as we move forward, no one is left behind.
We have so much to be proud of this year as we celebrate a landmark year for Pride and a watershed moment for the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why the County Administration Center will once again be lit in the colors of the rainbow, and for the first time in history, we will be flying the Pride flag above the County Administration Center in downtown San Diego. It is time for the County of San Diego to be more inclusive of the diverse communities we serve, and raising the Pride Flag is a symbolic step forward as we pursue other meaningful reforms in San Diego County.
As we celebrate Pride this year, it’s a time to renew our commitment to serving the LGBTQ+ community in every facet of our work. This means advocating for those in the community impacted by racism and xenophobia, housing insecurity and homelessness, mental health issues, drug addiction, chronic illness, lack of access to healthcare and childcare, and so much more.
Even with all the Pride we feel, we still have a long road ahead of us, but by traveling it together, we will achieve everything we set out to accomplish.