As a first-generation Mexican-American, the product of migrant field workers, today, César Chávez Day, holds a special significance to me. This isn’t just because I personally know what it’s like to wake up before dawn to irrigate the fields with my father, or because I know what it’s like to see my family come home covered in dirt after a long day in the scorching sun. It is because I also know the stories of how Mexican immigrants, like my family, were initially excluded from the movement for farmworkers’ rights. They were seen as a threat to labor and wage equity. Eventually, immigrants were allowed into the fight.
NFWA (National Farm Workers Association) led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta would go on to join Larry Itliong and the leadership of the predominantly Filipino AWOC (Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee) to see the power of addressing their shared struggles and form the UFW (United Farm Workers) which would go on to fight for LGBTQ rights and protections. In 1987, the same year our Pride marched to the steps of City Hall over its failure to address the AIDS crisis, César Chávez attended and addressed the Second National March on Washington for LGBTQ Rights where he stated, “Our movement has been supporting lesbian and gay rights for over 20 years.” He understood the importance of intersectional movement building. So do we.
In my over 20 years in the movement, 11 years with Pride, and quite acutely in the last few weeks I have heard sentiments from some in our community of “Pride should only be a party,” “Pride should only worry about LGBT issues,” “Pride shouldn’t worry about stuff like housing and homelessness.” While aspects of Pride evolved into a party, a celebration. It has never been only that.
The mere act of celebrating safely as your full self is fundamentally a social justice issue. Beyond that, Pride’s foundations were a direct result of state-sanctioned police violence as queerness was simultaneously pathologized and criminalized. Over the decades our San Diego Pride has marched with purpose. We spoke out against the Briggs Initiative attacking LGBTQ educators in 1978 and publicly mourned at City Hall for those we lost in 1987. Servicemembers marched openly in 2011 prior to the repeal of DADT. In 2016 our parade was led by our Latinx community as they carried signs with names, ages, and faces of the 49 lives we lost at Pulse. In 2017 over 50 leaders from different LGBTQ open and affirming congregations led the Parade to combat the ongoing attempts to use religion as a weapon against our community. Over the decades this organization has grown into even more than a weekend of deeply meaningful events.
The Pride movement was ignited in the face of clear and direct systemic oppression. As the Pride and LGBTQ movement evolve around the world, it is my sincere understanding that if we are to face the next generation of challenges and remain relevant, our work must be intersectional while continuing to have a clear focus on the unique and often ignored challenges our diverse LGBTQ community faces. In this way, we will pursue Justice with Joy! ¡Sí Se Puede!
Con Orgullo/With Pride,
Fernando Zweifach López Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs Executive Director San Diego Pride
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 them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.