Be Visible, Feel Seen

When I first began working at Pride in 2011, we were not yet using photos to tell the stories of our organization or community. While we had enjoyed LGBTQ employment protections for some time in the state of California – San Diego has the highest concentration of LGBTQ military personnel in the country, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) had not yet taken effect. The risk posed to the careers and lives of our service members was too great. Civilians too were concerned that their lives would be upended.

When the repeal of DADT took effect later that year, 10 years ago this month, Pride began the long process of uploading our photographic history to Facebook and something amazing happened. You see, while social media and digital photography were still relatively new and certainly not yet ubiquitous, in 1994, Executive Director Brenda Schumacher began the tradition of ensuring everything about Pride was documented through photography. Her foundational work coupled with the photo collections of board and community members meant that images of our community were well-preserved and could be shared.

As folks started to look through each year of Pride they began to tag their friends, share memories, and even reconnect with loved ones who they thought they had lost during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Our community knows all too well that visibility is key to impacting change, and photography has and continues to play a vital role in authentically showcasing the breadth and depth of our community.

Pride shifted from using only bold graphic images and logos in our marketing and communications to showcasing vibrant images of the diverse community we truly are. The attendance at our events began to grow rather rapidly as people saw themselves reflected and felt safer being out, knowing they weren’t alone. While the pandemic may have slowed down our photography, and we shifted our focus to video, it certainly did not stop. Our all-volunteer photography team and digital asset managers can be around 50 people strong on a typical year, led by incredibly talented folks like Vanessa Dubois and Phuong Nguyen.

You can view nearly all our photography from this and previous years here.

Join us on Friday, September 17, 2021, for an exhibit opening honoring the legacy of photographers using their art as advocacy as Art of Pride returns to the Pride office in North Park for Images of Pride, a reflection of the last five decades of Pride and queer photography in San Diego curated by John Keasler. We are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours to enter the exhibit and masks will be required while inside the building. We look forward to sharing these compelling images with you. It is through their preservation and our visibility that as a movement we remain Resilient. With Pride,

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


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.