Within our community, there is an ongoing debate about what Pride events and organizations should be. For some, it is only a protest. “No justice, no Pride.” For others, it is the only safe outlet for joy, the free expression of love, and identity. “Pride needs to stop being so political.” From the Stonewall Riots where our community fought back against state-sanctioned police violence while singing and dancing in the streets to the elevation of LGBTQ artists like Mj Rodriguez and Lil Nas X who use their global platform to advocate for LGBTQ justice, our community understands and embodies the intersection of art and advocacy.
The first Stonewall commemoration events in San Diego in 1970, before they were called Pride, included both celebratory “Gay-ins” and protests in front of SDPD headquarters. As San Diego Pride began the process of formally becoming a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 1989 our organization’s leadership at the time, including Larry Baza, worked to ensure our pursuit of liberation and desire for safe celebration would go hand in hand. We believe the veterans of our movement did not struggle so we would only suffer. Their labor and ours have been to uplift LGBTQ lives in pursuit of happiness. Why fight if not to flourish?
Our annual celebrations bring together hundreds of thousands of people who converge around LGBTQ arts and culture with clear social justice messages and access to direct services. At our Pride Festival and within our year-round programming, you will find diverse LGBTQ singers, musicians, dancers, DJs, drag performers, poets, authors, painters, photographers, and sculptors whose craft helps us feel seen, heard, and transcends us to joy. Similarly, you will find access to sobriety support, HIV and STI testing, vaccine access, voter registration, LGBTQ competent health care and senior services, LGBTQ advocacy and direct service organization whose efforts help us to heal, build power, and pursue justice.
That is why our 2022 theme is “Justice with Joy.”
After these past two years, joy has too often felt impossibly distant. Over the course of this year, we will highlight the programs, organizations, small businesses, events, and individuals who embody the intersection of art and advocacy. We will remind ourselves with intentionality that in our moments of protest, mourning, and celebration the power of art and culture can mend, comfort, elevate, and fuel us. While many of us are weary and worn, the hard work of our movement is unfinished. We invite you to take the calloused hand of your neighbor as they take yours, and together we will dance towards Justice with Joy.
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride