Three local activists meet to bridge differences in advance of parade
By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor
It has been a year of protests; the Women’s March hours after the presidential inauguration in January; followed by the Science March; then the March for Climate Change; the National Equality March in June; and most recently, the Impeachment March.
While our local community also participated on a smaller scale in the National Equality March, which coincided with Washington, D.C.’s Pride weekend, this Saturday we will embark upon our 42nd annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade.
Once a protest march of its own, the San Diego Pride Parade has evolved into a lavish, two-hour, fun-filled, celebratory procession through the streets of Hillcrest. On very few occasions since this evolution have we dealt with negativity from outside — or inside — influences; but it has happened and those who were on hand will remember them well.
In recent weeks, however, there has been a lot of talk about another possible uprising — from members with our own community who feel marginalized — with plans to conduct a protest that would shut down the parade, possibly in front of the law enforcement officers’ (LEOs) contingent.
This news disturbed me; not because those who wish to protest should not voice their feelings or have them heard, but because that contingent is filled with our own LGBT brothers and sisters. Each one of them has experienced their own version of disenfranchisement and discrimination; each one has a particular Pride Parade that was their “first,” where they were finally able to come out of the closet at work and be out and proud LEOs as they publicly walked down the street to cheering community members.
This angst from our trans community toward LEOs is not new; in fact, there have been two separate protests against openly transgender San Diego Police Officer Christine Garcia in the last year. It would appear that this voiced marginalization and the resulting dissatisfaction with a courageous and openly trans police officer would be the perfect scenario for our San Diego Human Relations Commission, an organization that focuses on equity and equality across all cultures, sexualities and backgrounds, and aims to bridge differences — through mediation — with dignity, compassion, understanding and education. Time will tell.
In the meantime and unknown to most, since word of the potential uprising in San Diego first trickled out in the wake of a successful protest of the same premise against Washington, D.C. Pride in June, the staff at San Diego Pride has been working diligently behind the scenes to address any foreseeable disruptions to our parade.
As news of the protest recently began to spread on Facebook, however, there was a great deal of “ugliness stirred up,” said Ian Morton, operations director at the Human Dignity Foundation and a Gay San Diego columnist.
Morton said there had been both “partial” and even “incorrect information” regarding the exact nature of the intentions of the protest organizers, who call themselves the #NoJusticeNoPride movement.
In an act of solidarity, Morton recently met up with Fernando Lopez, director of operations of San Diego Pride, and Syra Evans, a trans activist and one of the #NoJusticeNoPride organizers. Fittingly, the three queer people of color met at a coffeehouse in the area where North Park meets South Park.
Morton said the trio “sat down to actually engage in dialogue and we are working together to create better communication and accountability.”
It is their intention to get the news of their meeting and the results of it out to the public in advance of Saturday, perhaps to quell some fears and maybe lessen the anger of others.
Following is an account of the meeting, written by Morton and sent to Gay San Diego on Tuesday evening.
“There has been a particularly vitriolic stirring in the past week, surrounding the question as to whether there would be a protest or disruption of the San Diego Pride Parade. On Friday, July 7, at 11 a.m., Syra Evans, Fernando Lopez and Ian Morton sat down at Santos Coffee House, to start a year-long comprehensive conversation.
We talked about our own lives and experiences; we had moments of affirmation and reflection about our commonality; we acknowledged legitimate disappointments and failings; as well as accusations based on false or partial information.
Most of all, we honored the fact that each of us came to that table wanting to see San Diego Pride be an intersectional movement that we can all wholeheartedly partake in.
As a result, there was a commitment to thoughtfully and comprehensively examine the needs of marginalized LGBTQ community members and the mechanisms of San Diego Pride and determine where there is true disparity and how to enact harmonious solutions. There is a commitment to bringing marginalized voices to the table and not let the needs of those individuals be drowned out by those who are satisfied with the status quo.
We acknowledge that the community members, who have yet to benefit from the progress that many of our cisgender gay, lesbian and bisexual siblings have experienced, often have the greatest barriers to maintaining a voice at the tables of decision.
We would like to believe that those of us, who have benefitted, would want to see these voices amplified.
We were three QTPOC (Queer/Trans People of Color), sitting in a lesbian-owned coffee shop, discussing how things could be better … and while we cannot speak for the entire San Diego population, as of Friday, July 7 at 1 p.m., there was no longer a plan to take direct action against the Parade on Saturday.
And that is an appropriate type of outcome for these discussions. Understand that there is still a reason for rage in the hearts of many of your LGBTQ siblings and that you can make the choice not to dismiss this pain. Just be a human being listening to a fellow human — that is how change starts.
We are just a few days away from San Diego Pride weekend and we ask you to reflect, as you celebrate, on all those who made sacrifices for what the LGBTQ population has achieved and who we still must serve.”
—Syra Evans, Fernando Lopez and Ian Morton
San Diego Pride Parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 15, at the corner of Normal Street and University Avenue in Hillcrest. It will go west on University Avenue to Sixth Avenue, when it will turn south, following a nearly two mile route into Balboa Park. Come to the parade. It’s free and it’s fun. Celebrate who we all are and how far we’ve come.
—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at email@example.com.
UPDATE (July 13): The individuals behind the local #NoJusticeNoPride movement would like us to make sure readers know that while they say they never intended to block the San Diego Pride Parade, they still are planning a peaceful protest and rally. Details are in the event link here: bit.ly/2tNWdvR.