Being a part of San Diego Pride means tying a part of our identities to this work, and our volunteers understand this best, choosing to give their time freely.
Connor Maddocks (he/him), has been a volunteer since 2004 and shared with us:
Pride has been a huge part of my life for so many years, I don’t know what I’d do without it. When people say it’s a Pride Family, it’s true, you meet so many amazing folks through being a volunteer, and I continue to meet new people that become friends. It’s a community that helps each other out.
The Pride volunteer shirt tells everyone you’re proud to be part of this organization. When we recruit folks, our identity as LGBTQ+ people is rooted in this act of volunteering. We don’t want people to just volunteer, we want to keep them around, we want to empower them to move up in the Stairway to Leadership and keep them as part of the family.
I am so grateful to be part of the Pride family. I’ve gotten much more back than I’ve ever given. It’s been so good for my soul to be surrounded by kind and generous people. I hope I can continue to give back. Having year-round programming lets people outside of our community get to know us in a way that they might not during the Parade and Festival.
One of our newer volunteers, Derrick Fuqua (he/him), shares what being part of our Pride Family is like.
After moving here in Spring 2019, I stumbled into the Pride office and was excited to find a place to volunteer, after being involved in various LGBT organizations for many years in the South, and in some spaces, either being seen as ‘too Black’ and others ‘not Black enough,” because I’m biracial.
I am thankful that San Diego Pride has given me a community that accepts me, regardless of who I walk into the door with. Be it walking around as an ally at She Fest, or volunteering at booths with Pride, I have always felt welcomed for all that I am.
Randy Pittman (he/him) has been volunteering with San Diego Pride since 1998. Randy served in the Navy during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that forced gay, lesbian, and bisexual military service members to hide their sexuality, and he shared how Pride impacted him during that time.
When I was in the Navy and stationed in Japan, a young airman was murdered by one of his shipmates for being gay. I held this experience in, as the murderer was allowed to continue his duty, while I knew that someone like me had been murdered by him.
When I moved to San Diego, a supervisor invited me to the San Diego Pride parade. When I got there, I broke down crying because of the hurt I had experienced and held in. The fear of being scared to be true to myself was released as I saw people celebrating. I walked down the parade and into the festival, where I saw someone with a volunteer shirt. This was in 1997 and they told me to come back to volunteer next year, so I did.”
As a volunteer, and as an LGBTQ person, I want to be a beacon of change. I want to make sure those who are struggling with their identities have a place. Give them a sense of belonging.
Figuring ourselves out can be confusing, especially if we don’t often have exposure to other folks like us. Jax Elton (he/they), one of our Youth Ambassadors, tells us his story of how they came to be part of San Diego Pride:
I attended the 2019 Youth Leadership Academy (a day-long academy that includes historic context, LGBTQ resource education, organizing skills, and team-building activities) which was an eight hour plus day with queer kids. I didn’t know I was like them until I was there and after an hour or two at YLA, I asked to change my name badge to Jax.
Someone told me, “You’re in a space with queer youth, we all understand figuring ourselves out.”
My entire experience (with San Diego Pride) has taught me so much about myself, LGBTQ+ education, and getting to experience life with other queer kids.
San Diego Pride recognizes that our identities are non-conforming to the rest of society, but the programming reminds us that it’s a good thing for us, to be able to help our communities from intersecting identities. The world tends to see being part of the LGBTQ+ community as a bad quality and San Diego Pride as an organization works to normalize our identity and make community for us as individuals.
San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.