By Dae Elliott | South Bay Alliance
It doesn’t seem like that long to me.
OK, I know, I’m old and nothing seems like that long to me, but think about it. Starting as a small group in response to our politicians and other local leaders suggesting that there was no LGBTQ in south San Diego County and the issue of marriage equality during the initial California Proposition 22 was only a “Hillcrest” thing.
It was then that many of us realized that we needed to be more visible if we were going to change the sentiments. Most of us in that original group were longtime residents if not born residents of south county San Diego and knew this issue was about our community, our backyard and our neighbors.
So began our annual South Bay Pride Festival.
We are now 10 years old and have grown from a few hundred to over 15,000 in attendance. We still get the line, “Chula Vista has a PRIDE?” and are hoping to eradicate that but we have certainly come a long way. We no longer have politicians and community leaders suggesting the LGBTQ community doesn’t exist here, we have gay/straight alliances, LGBTQ representation in our public offices and yes, everyone, hear me, we have Pride every year at Bayside Park, Chula Vista, serving the whole south county.
A person on social media recently asked, “What do we have to be proud of?”
It was hard to respond with all the events happening these past few weeks, with so many of our inroads towards social justice around race, gender and sexuality seems to be getting whiplash from the pushback. Charlottesville weighs heavily on our minds.
I can hear the frustration caused by this and division within, so I answered.
What do we have to be proud of? A lot, and we need to remind ourselves and encourage each other during dark times that we have indeed made a difference and will continue to make a difference.
Tenacity, hope and persistence all come from the strength of us together. So we work to respect our differences within the community but even more we celebrate those differences as the source of our strength.
Our Pride events can model how to embrace each other in all our individuality, how we can have a community based upon mutual respect and appreciation.
So I invite you to support South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival on Sept. 9.
It is a community Pride put on by a dedicated group of volunteers. While it is a free event, we do ask for a $10 donation.
It’s on the beach! We have tons of gourmet, award-winning food trucks, drinks and spirits throughout the park, and the best of San Diego’s up-and-coming bands such as The HoocH, Funkshuiplanet, Social Animal, Ingenue, Smarter Than Robots, Alive & Well, Pretty Vacant and Atlas, along with a lineup of DJs that will keep you dancing on the sands of the beach.
It is a great day to enjoy while kicking back and yes, celebrate, our steps forward despite our steps back. We must do this so we can all persevere to a better tomorrow … and … to have a good time among our friends in order to refill our tanks for the ongoing challenges towards the future that includes justice and equality as the essential and unerring part of our national character.
South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival takes place Saturday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For directions and more information, visit SouthBayPRIDE.org.
—Dae Elliott is a founding executive committee member and the current executive director of South Bay Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and organizer of the annual South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival. Contact her at email@example.com.