The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated industries, but perhaps none are as overlooked as our live performance artists and events. All too often, and particularly in times of crisis, arts and entertainment are seen as extra, expendable, and excess. Funding for arts and culture is often the first to go.
Who are we without our joy?
San Diego Pride, in a typical year, employs and promotes hundreds of diverse LGBTQ entertainers at our annual Pride Festival. We create culturally intentional spaces that draw in attendance across two days on four stages with musicians, singers, DJs, dancers, and drag artists. While there, folks get connected to LGBTQ culturally competent social organizations as well as direct services and care. The proceeds from the event not only employ those artists and folks in the entertainment industry, they are also then used to fund our own year-round programs and annual Pride Community Grants. COVID-19 changed things dramatically.
Over the last year and a half we have worked with local, state, and national leaders, organizations, and elected officials to call for arts and entertainment support through the San Diego Event Coalition, San Diego Artist Relief Fund, and for Pride organizations around the country to qualify for government relief grants.
During Pride season, instead of a massive festival, we hosted virtual and smaller in-person COVID-19 safety compliant events all across the county that again allowed us to hire diverse LGBTQ entertainers, bringing music and Pride to over 100,000 people.
Pride in San Diego is all year round. We hope you will continue to find ways to support your local LGBTQ musicians, drag performers, and DJs whether it is by attending our events, supporting the local LGBTQ owned businesses that employ them, watching their streaming content, and tipping them in-person or through one of their cash exchange apps. Our performers are who we turn to in times of mourning and joy. We can not turn away from them now if our community is to remain Resilient.
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.