In the 1950’s, long before the Stonewall riots, “homosexuals” were hunted within the federal government and ejected as they were pegged security risks and communist sympathizers. In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which barred members of the LGBTQ community from entering government service. This stayed in effect until President Bill Clinton rescinded the order in 1995. While our own federal government continues to attack our community, we have made astounding progress since that time. Who would have thought then, that we would live in a world where San Diego has the highest number of out LGBTQ elected officials in the country, and one of our countries leading presidential candidates is openly LGBTQ.
Our Sunday headliner, Melissa Etheridge, is an iconic rock legend and LGBTQ trailblazer who paved the way for so many other out LGBTQ entertainers across genres, genders, and cultural experiences. The ability for compelling LGBTQ artists like Saturday’s headliner, King Princess, to come right out of the gate fully embracing her identity in her music, medium, and public persona embody how far we’ve come since the Stonewall Riots. King Princess’s music is unapologetically queer, honors her identity, and the history of our community. Her breakout song 1950, is a tribute to the struggles our community faced as they had to hide for fear of being outed, losing their jobs, and sometimes their lives.
This year’s Pride is a celebration of legacy, as our diverse community makes intentional space for ourselves to honor our pursuit of justice with joy out of a world and systems that were not built with our well being in mind. Every generation is a part of our movement, and know if we approach our own individual legacies with intention, we can build on the struggles and successes of our past to leave a better world for those who come next. We are all connected to this legacy of liberation.
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.