By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor
Community members share what made this Pride special
For the first time in many years I watched the Pride Parade from the sidelines rather than partake in it in the contingents.
We had just launched our @Gay_SD Instagram account and I was spending the day documenting what I saw, so I could upload to our Instagram account. And what an amazing day it was (until the Verizon cell towers maxed out of capacity and I lost my phone in an Uber for the rest of the weekend).
But despite possible protests, division over longtime community leaders, political battles over new hirings and future departures, and the conflict of our divided nation, this was a Pride celebration for the record books.
I had so much to report on and share, but I saw so many members of our community truly enjoying themselves last weekend, I decided to ask random members of the community for their favorite “moment,” and here is what I received:
The Thursday before Pride, when we were finishing up the broad strokes of the build-out, 11 Iraqi high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 — who are traveling the country as a part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State — came to the festival site to meet with Pride staff and youth leaders from the Pride Youth Lunch Bunch program, which is managed Fernando Lopez, Alex Villafuerte and Josh Coyne.
I was told to expect them, so I was at the gate for their arrival and their first meeting with our local youth. The Iraqi youth seemed a bit apprehensive at first, but most of them were friendly towards our youth. Most of the visitors wanted to pose for a picture with the Pride staff and youth leaders (a few didn’t, but my understanding is that it was more of a cultural problem with photography than a snub to our LGBTQ+ youth).
The group of guests and hosts then walked through the festival site to the Youth Zone, where they sat around in a circle and had a wide-ranging conversation led by the youth. I wasn’t a part of the conversation, but I was copied on the follow-up emails where the San Diego Diplomacy Council, who had organized the exchange, told us that the Iraqi youth had absolutely loved their meeting with the Pride youth, and that 10 out of 11 of the Iraqi youth had changed their views on LGBT people.
—Dan Horan, San Diego Pride volunteer festival manager
Winning Mr. Gay Pride. It was something separate from what I’m used to. I think I won because of my answer; halfway through it, everyone started to clap when I talked about serving another community [Seattle] for 10 years and now I call this community my home. The “moment” was having Mr. Gay Leather San Diego put my sash over me, hearing everyone screaming and chanting to kiss. So we kissed on stage.
—William Pontius, Mr. San Diego Gay Pride
One woman leaned over, kissed her partner and they walked happily down the street.
I love that being yourself is comfortable for everyone during Pride.
—Omar Passons, candidate for County Supervisor, District 4
I wish I could pick just one. The thing I love about Pride is that it is by far the most diverse event in our community. Perhaps I can say that my favorite part is all the people. It is a long way from a nervous 200 [marchers] in 1974 to this. I just soak up my “Gay Day” surrounded by a city of us.
—Bridget Wilson, local and national LGBT activist
My favorite part was seeing people from all over the world come into town.
From friends and family members to new encounters; everyone puts MO’s on their to-do list.
We continue to be a beacon of love and light; we support people to just be themselves and feel at home in their skin.
I am honored to be part of such an incredible family we call MO’s Universe.
—Glitz Glam, gender queer drag queen, manager at Urban MO’s
Little did I know that with choosing such an icon also came with much responsibility and much attitude to preserve what Glinda the Good Witch means to the LGBT world.
I walked around and soon realized that I was actually Glinda to many, many children — and with that, I needed to offer myself to the children as someone that assured them safety and comfort.
It was the little boy that smiled and stared at me for an entire block after I hit his tiny head with my magic wand and said to him “You are free now.”
He believed it. And at that moment — I actually felt myself free as well. In other words, we accepted one another and walked feeling a little better about ourselves.
I also encountered many adults that asked to be “blessed” with my magic star. I believe in God and I have a master’s degree from Harvard in religion; yet, for the first time, I understood what religion meant to children. It means acceptance in every sense of the word; being loved, regardless.
I was crying by the end of Pride. The best Pride experience I’ve ever had … ever. There was love everywhere. But the children were my highlight. They gave me hope that our community is headed in the right direction.
And Glinda walked for eight hours in the heat. With make-up running, eye lashes falling and with a dedicated goal of being there for them — the kids and adults that just needed a bit of magic and love. Thank you, San Diego. Thank you.
—Alexander Salazar, artist and gallery owner
I would say my favorite celebration was at the Torque Moto Cafe with all the guests and the comedians, along with the joy the women felt all being together at the events.
The only “moments” were when others were telling me how thankful they were for the events. It made an impact on me.
—Sally Hall, promoter, Girls Night Out events
Pride got so much coverage this year and had an awesome turnout. I was surprised to see how big the crowd was on Sunday, I had never been to the closing day of the festival. It was bananas.
I’m not too much of a selfie guy, but there was something very special about EnVogue asking fans to take a pic with them.
Everyone immediately turned around and the gals posed for our phones directly behind us. It was fun to see the fans united.
—Tony Uribe, Captura Agency
The Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego reached out to me to do a joint fundraiser in support of the onePULSE Foundation. This issue is near and dear to my heart as I went to high school in Orlando, and Pulse Nightclub was one of my first. In fact, I knew two of the victims. So the executive board of the San Diego Democrats for Equality voted to support the effort.
We volunteered to print to banners with the logos of both organizations [Democrats for Equality and Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego] side-by-side in the spirit of bipartisanship.
People would come and sign the banner and donate to the onePULSE Foundation. It wasn’t much but in a time where there is so much division and partisan vitriol it is good to know that there are things that we can come together around and that there truly is more that unites us than divides us.
My favorite moment of the weekend was the parade. Seeing so many people come out is always a highlight for me.
—William Kennedy Rodriguez, president, Democrats for Equality
Watching the Parade with my “framily” (friends and family). Most were straight and seeing their delight. Especially when our military passed through. Out of the 13 of us, five were veterans and we had one sheriff. It made my heart happy.
—Ebony Burnett Mullins, former co-chair, San Diego Pride