Earlier this year we lost a pillar in our community, Larry T. Baza. Larry first joined our board in 1990 and in 1992 became our organization’s first Latino co-chair. Alongside his new co-chair, Vertez Burks, it was the first time San Diego Pride was led by people of color.
One of the big changes Larry helped to bring was greater attention to diversity and inclusion, particularly around the arts. Soon a new multicultural stage was added to the Festival’s footprint, which by 2006 would become two distinct stages now called The Movement, which highlights Black music and culture, and Mundo Latino, which showcases the vibrancy of our region’s diverse Latinx community.
In the aftermath of the Pulse Massacre, our Latinx community wanted to create more intentional space and programming for one another. Having seen the success of the newly formed San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition which had started in 2015, many of us started talking about creating something similar. Through an effort led by Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Carolina Ramos, Nick Serrano, and myself we began the San Diego County LGBTQ Latinx Coalition in mid-2017 as we held a public forum to talk about what the future might look like for us.
Since that time the coalition has fostered binational relationships, worked to get out the vote, held educational forums, educated around safer sex practices, expanded outreach efforts to the LGBTQ Latinx community around the region, and have raised funds and held clothing drives to support Casa Arcoiris Albergue, a shelter in Tijuana for LGBTI+ migrants seeking asylum.
In recent years, when we’ve had the in-person Festival, the Latinx Coalition was able to also ensure the Mundo Latino area, added a new Latin Pride zone with additional LGBTQ-Latinx owned, led, or competent direct service and care, social groups, businesses, and delicious food! From 2020 to now, almost all of their programming continues in virtual space, but, in 2021 we were able to host our first-ever in-person Latin Pride event in Barrio Logan during Pride week at Mujeres Brew. This year’s smaller Pride events spread out around the county, and this one has a special place in my heart, with artists, dancers, musicians, and of course amazing food and friends. You can check out some amazing pictures from the event here.
I share all of this as we are just entering Latin Heritage month. You can support the Latinx Coalition by making a donation to their programming, signing up for their e-mailing list, join their Facebook Group, or follow them on Instagram. We are also always looking for more volunteers and folks interested in leadership within the coalition. If you’re interested in doing more you can connect with our Bilingual Community Outreach Coordinator, Melanie Mijares. As Pride’s first Latinx executive director, this program has a special place in my heart. Thank you for taking a moment to learn a little about our Latin history and programming. Your continued support will help us all stay Resilient.
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.