How do we face our fears?

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral lit up in the colors of the transgender flag.

I am the son of immigrants; a first generation U.S. citizen. The Jewish side of my family emigrated to the United States from Russia and Austria respectively to escape persecution and death. The Mexican side of my family moved to California in the 60’s as migrant field workers in pursuit of the American Dream. In my mixed identity upbringing, I remember being taught by my family about the ways in which I would experience discrimination as a Jew, a Latino, a child of immigrants, and how I might experience rejection at the intersection of those identities. My parents were right. Then in my own journey of discovering my queer, gay, femme, and gender fluid identities, I realized that for the sake of my own life and safety I, like many LGBTQ people, needed to move somewhere more accepting. I sought refuge and community here in San Diego nearly 20 years ago.

The act of hate that took the lives of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past weekend has many of us shaken to our core. The recent hate crimes attacking the LGBTQ community here in San Diego, the Jeffersontown shooting of two black store patrons after the shooter attempted to enter a predominantly black church, the national rise in hate crimes facing our community and disproportionately impacting trans women of color, the proposed HHS policy changes targeting the trans community, and more have taken a huge emotional and deadly toll. We are fighting the same fight we’ve always been fighting – one against fear and hate.

We can fight back by finding one another around the intersection of our identities, showing up for other marginalized communities in their time of need, and doing the work of building our own power and capacity. If you find yourself wanting or needing space to connect with community and engage in the education and advocacy work needed to combat the issues facing our community I invite you to join one of our many programs. The DevOUT interfaith coalition and the San Diego County LGBTQ Latinx Coalition are a great way to start. The San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition is hosting a conference this weekend Lessons from Wakanda. Next weekend we’re hosting our annual Pride Youth Leadership Academy and next year we’re launching our first QAPI (Queer Asian Pacific Islander) Coalition.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it’s heartwarming to think of how far our community has come. We are all apart of that legacy of liberation. We will continue to make progress if we act together, show up to the polls on Tuesday. Know that each of you is welcome at Pride, you are part of our ever growing family, and that 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.