2023 Awardees are…

Dear Pride Family,

At the Stonewall Riots, we were under attack and we fought back. That is why we have Pride. Here we are again under threat of the same legal, state-sanctioned violence and oppression the veterans of our movement fought against. Each year, San Diego Pride kicks off our Pride weekend with the Spirit of Stonewall Rally to honor our origins, celebrate those who are leading the way, and call our community to action around some of our movement’s most pressing issues. 

Here are this year’s honorees doing the hard work on the front lines for our community.

Christynne Lili Wrene Wood, a Black transgender veteran, bravely withstood right-wing anti-LGBTQ attacks in 2023. Her resilience, commitment to the LGBTQ community, and leadership, especially among trans youth, exemplify her Champion of Pride status.

The Drag Community is facing hateful rhetoric, right-wing militias, and outright legal bans. Drag Royalty and families have defended our LGBTQ community, and in naming them this year’s Community Grand Marshal, we stand for their liberation, healing, and art. 

TransFamily Support Services (TFSS)  tirelessly supports transgender and non-binary youth through education, resources, and advocacy across the country. This year’s Stonewall Service Award recipient, TFSS combats increasing threats to trans youth nationwide.

Lindsey Deaton uses art to empower our community. Founding and directing art programs: Trans Chorus of LA, TransVagina Diaries, Church of Trans Love, and San Diego’s Queer Youth Chorus. We’re proud to honor her with this year’s Larry T. Baza Arts & Culture Award.

Blenders Eyewear is a company with a commitment to philanthropy and social justice. Their Blenders Cares program highlights organizations working to make impactful and long-lasting change, and we are excited to honor them with the Stonewall Philanthropy Award

Naya Marie Velazco is an ardent transgender advocate with a rich background in social services, HIV prevention, and harm reduction. Her service with Transgender Health & Wellness Center and dedication to improving lives make her the Community Service Award recipient.

Judith (Judy) Vaughs as Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood deeply partners with a multitude of LGBTQ+ organizations to expand reproductive justice policies. Her commitment to intersectional LGBTQ and reproductive justice has earned her the title of Friend of Pride.

Dr. Carlton Thomas, @DoctorCarlton, a widely known gastroenterologist and advocate for queer sexual health, provided vital education during the MPOX outbreak, coordinated with the CDC, and received White House recognition. He is this year’s Hero of Pride.

My first Spirit of Stonewall Rally was in 2000. Only weeks before I had been homeless and living in my car, but there for the first time I found my community and hope. So as you come to revel in joy with us this year, remember too that our Pride has purpose. Our need to take a stand and continue this work couldn’t be more clear, so please join us at the Rally to remember what we’re fighting for as we are called to action by those in our community who are helping us Thrive!

With Pride,

Fernando Z. López
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride


About Fernando

Fernando Lopez was 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 them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.