Black Brilliance is Resilience

In 1990, Vertez Burks joined our board and in 1992 became first Black co-chair of San Diego Pride. Vertez Burks, together with Latino co-chair, Larry Baza, was instrumental in changing the locations of the Pride Parade and Festival to the locations we recognize today, formalizing us from an ad-hoc committee into a nonprofit organization, and shifting us to a profitable model that lead us on a path to becoming the most philanthropic Pride in the world. Vertez, was followed in that work by other Black LGBTQ community leaders serving as co-chairs like Phyllis Jackson and current co-chair David Thompson.

In 2011, Dwayne Crenshaw became the first Black executive director in our organization’s history. He was also the first ED of color. Dwayne brought a vision, built on the shoulders of those who came before, that Pride could become a year-round education and advocacy organization. In the ten years since he invested in that vision for our organization, we have gone from a $1 million dollar organization to $3.7 million, 3 staff to 11, and to having robust programs meeting intersectional community needs all throughout the year.

In 2006, our multicultural festival stage expanded into separate distinct stages honoring and uplifting Black and Latinx arts, culture, and entertainers respectively. The then new “Ebony Pride Stage” was booked and built out by and for our LGBTQ communty, as our board made a commitment to always include this intentional space going forward. Now called “The Movement Stage” for years the area has been connected for years to our “Black Pride” community resource area developed through a partnership with one of our annual grantees, the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition, who ensure LGBTQ Black resources are available along with the entertainment.

The San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition was actually founded within our building in 2015 thanks to the efforts of LGBTQ Black community leaders Dwayne Crenshaw, Adam Dyer, Rickie Brown, LaRue Fields, and others. Their foundational work inspired the creation of the San Diego LGBTQ Latinx Coaltion, and the Queer APIMEDA Coaltion, and today, the Black LGBTQ Coalition remains one of our strongest community partners.

Every single year in San Diego we kick off Pride weekend with the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, where we honor the moment that sparked a revolution led by Black LGBTQ pioneers Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Stormé DeLarverie. Throughout the years that stage and our annual Light Up the Cathedral events have also served as host to rally cries calling our community to address the intersection of anti-Black racism and the LGBTQ movements through speakers like Laverne Cox, Mila Jam, Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Rev. Dr. J. Lee Hill, The Task Force ED – Kierra Johnson, and California Secretary of State – Dr. Shirley Weber.

We remind ourselves of this legacy of work in honor of Black History Month, and to remind ourselves that we must know and respect our Black history so we can continue to invest in Black futures. The Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship Fund administered through San Diego Pride is the first and one of the only Black Trans-led scholarship funds in the country, and this year will be giving out its 100th scholarship!

Over the last several weeks and months, in Hillcrest, San Diego, local businesses and at least one church have been subjected to anti-Black anti-LGBTQ motivated hate crimes. We cannot let those acts of violence deter us, or our resolve to uplift Black voices, leaders, and joy. Our work must continue to be intersectional if we are to realize true progress for all of LGBTQ siblings. Black LGBTQ brilliance is resilience. It has led our movement locally and across the world. Their work has made all of us Resilient.

In Solidarity,

Fernando Zweifach López
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride

P.S. The Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Scholarship is now open to all transgender and gender-nonconforming students. Apply here. Please consider donating to the fund here. 100% of funds raised will go directly to the scholarship awards and your donation is tax-deductible.

2015: First meeting of the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition.

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