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Analysis: Status of a Pride Parade

Posted: July 12th, 2017 | Featured, News | 6 Comments

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.

The nearly 300-feet Pride Flag is carried by dozens of revelers in this photo from 2013; the flag signifies the end of the parade each year. (Courtesy San Diego Pride)

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 morgan@sdcnn.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.

6 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Fantastic work by Fernando, Ian and Syra! Each of us need to follow there lead and have conversations… only through listening and sharing, will we find avenues for acceptance and change. Fantastic article, Morgan. Thank you. Happy Pride!

  2. Jen says:

    This article gives misleading information on the status of No Justice No Pride. The article makes it appear that No Justice No Pride will not be holding a rally Saturday because of the conversation between Syra, Fernando, and Ian. This is in fact incorrect. Firstly, there was never a plan to blockade and shut down pride. Secondly, we will be hosting a peaceful rally on Saturday in solidarity with No Justice No Pride movements across the country.

    We are hosting the rally to resist corporate sponsorship of pride, fight the erasure of black and brown lives, and honor the trans women we have lost.

  3. Xstacy says:

    another attempt to stop peaceful protests. what a sham! nice tactic by pride and others, to all the protesters, raise that fist in opposition
    raise it high!

  4. J says:

    I agree with No Justice No Pride – the erasure of brown and black lives matters, but San Diego is actually really good about this. The police, no? But San Diego – yes. Honor that. Let’s also honor the trans women we have lost to homicide, and trans youth we continue to lose year after year to suicide. Regarding the corporate sponsorship of Pride. It seems to me that $20 for the entertainment portion of the event, is fair given the value derived, especially when the money goes to give grants to typically the small, unfundable, and necessary programs that help people in our community, and a portion internationally in places where people face death or worse for it.The Rally on Friday is to me the part that matters most, and it is Free – where are y’all then? The Parade as well is free. About the Festival, the money making part of pride…Without corporate sponsors, either the ticket price goes up (You will hate that I am assuming) or it will turn into a picnic, which is cool, but then you lose out on being one of if not the LARGEST civic events in San Diego, and one of the leading ones in the nation, in tone and practice; and the jobs for black, brown, and all other colors in San Diego that are created are important, especially sex workers who make a large portion of that income over the weekend. Let’s be real, and direct petulance to where it belongs, but love and cherish the beautiful thing we have going. Pride the entertainment event, could eventually be free if folks got together and found the right equation. All this anti-corporatist hate (who feeds and jobs you), racism, AND anti-trans BS has got to go. Show up to be COMMUNITY. Or stay home.. these people put the event on for free so you can show up and have a platform. Use it wisely.

  5. Ian Morton says:

    Hello Jen,

    Thank you for commenting and clarifying the intention of No Justice, No Pride, a national movement which of course belongs to no single individual. As a Black gay man, I thank you for your commitment to fighting the erasure of black and brown LGBTQ lives. I hope that, in addition to your rally, you will consider being a part of the conversations that follow. In my younger days, I have experienced both the “gatekeepers” who had no interest in what I brought to the table, and the allies who worked to amplify my voice. My goal is to always be the latter, whenever I can.
    direct email: ian@sdhdf.org

  6. I am soo happy that the much needed dialog has begun …..I would love to attend a function to learn more about No Justice No Pride..After the rally
    As an Elder and fighter I am VERy interested in empowering the voice of the unheard !!!!

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