Thank you!

With an event as massive as Pride, it’s hard to distill down the highlights of what we all just experienced. The vast amount of collective physical and emotional energy that was spent by so many in our community to make this last weekend possible is immeasurable, and the gratitude we all feel is as unique as our individual lives.

In the blur of many days of long hours, I was still able to witness trans youth speak their truth to massive crowds while finding their own power educating cis adults one-on-one. I heard stories of introverted volunteers who realized they had built teams of professional LGBTQ people working on shared goals who then understood they too had become a leader. I saw queer women recognizing their own worth, step cautiously into love, and share a first kiss. I witnessed people of all ages, skin shades, and body sizes dance in daylight with their friends, family, and lovers. I looked at lines of people getting tested for HIV and getting connected to resources. I conversed with a gay man who had been out of the closet for 8 years, but did not feel connected to our community until volunteering at the Festival.

This weekend wasn’t perfect. An event of this size never will be. This past weekend we all saw one of the largest and most diverse Pride events in San Diego history, but the most important takeaway isn’t the size of the event. It is the individual ways each of us made connections, how we bravely stepped out of our own shells, dared to trust our inner-self, and simply know that whoever we are is already whole and loved.

None of this would be possible without each of you. The volunteers, attendees, partner organizations, elected officials, donors, local, state, and federal agencies, the sponsors, staff, and local businesses who all serve Pride and our community in some way.

This last weekend a former homeless kid from the streets of Hillcrest was able to stand on the shoulders of giants and experience his first Pride as Executive Director of San Diego Pride. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the strength of our community and how deeply we all commit to serving our pursuit of equality. Thank you will never be enough, but I know together we will Persist with Pride.

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About Fernando

Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.