Stonewall Rally & Flag Raising
Friday, July 12 6 – 7 p.m.
A San Diego tradition since 1975, the special Stonewall Rally held Friday, July 12 helps launch the official San Diego Pride weekend celebration, where the LGBT community comes together to honor this year’s San Diego Pride Spirit of Stonewall award winners and re-energizes our focus on an ever-changing LGBT movement.
“The Spirit of Stonewall Rally is a time to recognize and honor leaders who are working hard to preserve our gains, and to meet the many challenges facing our collective community,” San Diego Pride said.
This year’s keynote speaker at the free community event is George Takei, a champion of marriage equality if ever there was one, who will address the crowd on this year’s Pride theme: Freedom to Love and Marry. Takei is also a Parade grand marshal, with his husband and longtime partner, Brad.
“Pride did not start as a party or celebration in the streets. It was a riot. And we have come so far,” said Fernando Lopez, San Diego Pride public affairs director at the All in Pride celebration held June 27, a smaller event that gives the Spirit of Stonewall winners a chance to thank their families, friends and supporters. All in Pride also serves to reintroduce the award winners to San Diego, some who have been working behind the scenes for years.
This year, honorees are: Champion of Pride Araceli “Cheli” Mohamed; Friend of Pride Cindy Green; Stonewall Service Award Winner Max Disposti and the North County LGBTQ Resource Center; and Stonewall Community Service winners Sean Bohac, Gibrán Güido, Hector Martinez and Jeri Muse. An honorary Friend of Pride award was given to Ted Olson and David Boies of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, who successfully argued the Prop 8 case at the Ninth Circuit and Supreme courts.
Also at the Stonewall Rally – taking place at the intersection of University Avenue and Normal Street, a new tradition for Hillcrest that is now in its second year – the LGBT historical monument at the base of the flag pole will be unveiled, and the flag will be raised to usher in the weekend.
“Cheering crowds and energetic speakers all lead up to the … raising of the Hillcrest Pride Flag and the unveiling of a new historic monument,” San Diego Pride said.
In addition to Takei, speakers at the rally are Connor Maddocks, Project Trans coordinator at The LGBT Center; Norma Chavez-Peterson, associate director of ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties; and Vincent Pompei, HRC director of Adolescent Well-Being Programs. Lopez will serve as emcee.
The San Diego Pride-Hillcrest Business Association Hillcrest Block Party immediately follows the flag raising at 7 p.m. See page 18 for more details.
Cheli Mohamed | Champion of Pride
Araceli “Cheli” Mohamed is all about volunteering, plain and simple.
As this year’s highest San Diego Pride honoree, Mohamed is being awarded Champion of Pride by the very people who she served for 20 years. Beginning as volunteer for the organization, she was snatched up by San Diego Pride in 2009 to work as the Leadership and Community Resources director, which, among other duties, oversaw the volunteer program.
But it was much more than a volunteer manager position, and in the time she worked as official staff, Mohamed saw her “proudest accomplishment,” San Diego Pride said, with the start of Pride 365!, a year-round volunteer program that includes leadership academies, civic projects, ACCESSPride and the Diversity Task Force.
“This changed the face of San Diego Pride, taking it from a once-a-year event to a year-round presence and resource for the community,” San Diego Pride said.
A longtime nonprofit advocate – and volunteer – Mohamed has served on the board of Diversionary Theatre, Bayshore Preparatory School, The Latino Unity Coalition, Lambda Archives and Home Start. Currently, she is the Corporate & Operations Manager for the California Police Athletic Federation.
Fernando Lopez of San Diego Pride said “the choice was clear” in selecting this year’s Champion of Pride, and the thousands of volunteers that have known or worked with Mohamed throughout her 20 years with the organization must agree.
At the All in Pride celebration, Mohamed did something that speaks to the truth of her commitment to volunteers. Instead of thanking friends and family – for which she is most definitely thankful – Mohamed instead asked all the volunteers she has worked with join her on stage. Almost half the room gathered around her.
“This award is not about me, it’s about you. Plain and simple,” she said. “I have not done this by myself.”
Mohamed gave some wise words to the organization she helped become what it is today.
“Ninety percent of the backbone of every single organization in our community is based on volunteers,” she said. “This honor is for every single volunteer that continues to grow with you as an organization, with you as a community. We have not done this work alone.”
Cindy Green | Friend of Pride
Activist in the LGBT community since 1993 when she joined the San Diego Democratic Club (now Democrats for Equality), Cindy Green is a true straight ally. She has worked on the campaigns of former Sen. Christine Kehoe and current Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, is a member of the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party and has been lobbying elected officials on behalf of the LGBT community for the better part of 20 years.
But Green’s Friend of Pride award is for much more than her political activism, for she has become an integral part of the San Diego LGBT family. Her good friend Rick – he taught her everything she knows about being a gay man, and “probably a whole lot more than a straight woman should ever know,” she said – asked her to be his best “person” at his wedding, and Green has become a tireless supporter of marriage equality.
The first straight ally to win the Stephen Pope Award for Volunteerism – she won it twice! – Green said the Supreme Court victories were amazing, but there is still more work to be done.
“Until everyone is equal, no one is,” she said.
Sean Bohac | Community Service
Truth be told, Sean Bohac’s activism extends beyond marriage equality. In the early 1990s, Bohac was fighting for old growth habitats in his Colorado community, “using civil disobedience to wage a PR war against the timber companies,” San Diego Pride said.
It wasn’t until Bohac moved to San Diego and walked the streets of Hillcrest that his understanding of the “inequality and discrimination” toward the queer community began to evolve. After Prop 8 passed in 2008, Bohac used his hurt to keep fighting.
He helped form the SAME Alliance and was one of the San Diego Equality 9, a group arrested for staging a sit-in once they were denied marriage licenses at the County Courthouse. Charges were eventually dropped – after much time and effort – but Bohac’s resolve was intact.
Now the president of SAME, Bohac said he thanked his partners at the organization for creating an “empowered space” for radical efforts. They fight for transgender rights, workers rights and, ultimately, for civil rights for all, a point made clear at the Day of Decision rally they organized.
“Many of us are recognizing that we have strength in numbers, and we have natural partners in other community of oppressed people,” he said in preparing the rally.
No, the fight is certainly not over.
Gibrán Güido | Community Service
Forever a wordsmith, Gibrán Güido knows just what to say, and when to say it. His contributions in academia and community services “nurtures individuals who seek a reflection of themselves, claiming voice to moments of struggle and transformation,” San Diego Pride said.
Güido is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Literature at the University of California, San Diego, working on a dissertation that reflects an emerging area in academia known as Jotería Studies: ways pain and trauma impact young gay men of color.
He is a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including from the Lambda Literary Foundation and San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, and helped organize the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies’ third Jotería Conference, as well as the fifth annual Queer People of Color Conference.
Saying he was not one for speeches, Güido chose to thank attendees at the All in Pride celebration with nothing less than a work of art: a poem.
Powerful, in his poem Güido said, “Love. You’re that light that glowed, that brought love back to my being. Passion, I believe was extinguished. Love, you’ve become the culmination of all my desires and happiness, a dream I’ve dreamt and now manifest. ‘Cause when we come together, found one another in the dark, we come together sharing love.”
Jeri Muse | Community Service
When Jeri Muse heard a veteran tell her about the impact of being in the military while struggling with his sexuality, she was “saddened and angered” because it hit close to home, San Diego Pride said. A psychologist, Muse said she heard numerous stories of people struggling within the Veterans Affairs health care system out of fear and being misunderstood.
Fast forward to today: Muse is taking steps to help all those – past and present – get the care they need. She currently serves as chair of the VA San Diego Healthcare Systems’ new LGBT Work Group, promoting the principles of patient-centered care to LGBT veterans through community outreach, ensuring a non-discriminatory, safe and inclusive environment, and staff education and training.
While Muse said she could not be doing the work of the special task force without the support of its director, Jeff Gering, and everyone else who works with her – it is all extra duties for the Work Group, outside of their regular job descriptions – it is certain they wouldn’t be doing the same work without her.
Thanking her partner Judi for her love and support, Muse said their work touches her heart.
“Health care systems, in order to really be a healing health care environment, … need to be an environment that really acknowledges, and embraces and supports all who we are,” she said. “Without that, healing really truly does not occur.”
Hector Martinez | Community Service
As the outreach coordinator of the LGBTQ Communities at Mental Health America of San Diego County, Hector Martinez is “dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives,” San Diego Pride said.
And that’s just his day job.
One year into his current position, Martinez took the personal step of helping to save a man who was moments away from deportation to Uganda, which could have led to persecution, or worse, death. Martinez, with the guidance of The LGBT Center and San Diego’s St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, organized a petition and fundraiser, traveled to Washington to speak to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and secured a pro-bono lawyer for his new friend.
A success story, the man is still in San Diego.
A vocal advocate for marriage equality and suicide prevention, Martinez is also a co-founder of the Youth Empowerment Summit (Y.E.S.) for LGBTQ youth, a free classroom-style event to empower youth that had its inaugural session in 2011. He and co-founder Ian Morton are busy planning the follow up summit.
At the All in Pride celebration, Martinez was quick to thank The Center CEO Delores Jacobs, St. Paul’s founder Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, his friends – his mother, who was there in support – and the many people who have helped him help others.
He said if there is one thing to impart, it is simply that “As a community, we are powerful.”
North County LGBTQ Resource Center | Stonewall Service
Max Disposti of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center would probably be the first to say the work he has done wouldn’t have happened without the wonderful LGBT community in North County. He counts them as his friends and family, however, remains a driving force and face of all that is happening for LGBT visibility in region where it isn’t so easy to be out.
It’s this reason that San Diego Pride is honoring both Disposti and the entire Resource Center with the Stonewall Service award, which is usually given to an organization.
“Not only do we honor an institution, but a man who is of himself an institution,” San Diego Pride’s Fernando Lopez said.
And anyone who knows Disposti knows he is just that: an institution of care, respect and advocacy.
The North County Resource Center opened a physical space in December 2011 and now serves upwards of 1,000 people monthly. On the day the Supreme Court handed out their monumental marriage equality decisions, Disposti said hundreds of people came to the Resource Center to celebrate, showing the strength of the North County community.
“It is difficult at times,” Disposti said. “Yet we go there. We’re creating bridges of communication and we’re making a difference one by one, family by family.