Here are Pride we’re already in the process of planning for next year’s big event, and as we look back over the last year, one of the things I’m most proud of is that as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we also took the year to honor the Stonewall Generation who built our movement and continue to mentor and drive us forward.
This summer we chose the “Stonewall Generation” as our Community Grand Marshal. At the Spirit of Stonewall Rally seniors who have played a key role in San Diego’s LGBTQ history were recognized for their decades of service. There we honored community pioneers Jeri Dilno, Nicole Murray Ramirez, Doug Moore, Phyllis Jackson, and Pat McArron who all played an important part in building San Diego’s LGBTQ community. The next day they joined other seniors in our community by leading our parade. If you had the opportunity to witness both, you know how moving these moments were for the participants and observers.
For years we have partnered with The Center’s Senior Services to host our Senior Review stand near the beginning of the Parade providing additional seating, shade, and water. This year we doubled that seating and added a second location near the end of the Parade route.
At the Festival, which saw just over 50,000 people this year, around 3,000 of those attendees were seniors. 450 took advantage of our senior discount tickets, and many more took advantage of our two Senior Cool Zones hosted in partnership with FOG (Fellowship of Older Gays), founded by the late Dan Schaefer, where seniors can find seating, shade, water, community, and a collection of LGBTQ-competent senior resources. New this year at the Festival was our “Senior Sunday Brunch” where over 200 seniors arrived before noon on Sunday got in for free and then hung out in our new Prism: Art, Literacy, & Recovery area where we provided free coffee, pastries, and fruit. It was a hit, and will be back next year!
Seniors are 8% of our 3,540 volunteers, members of our staff, and board members. One of the most beautiful things I enjoy the most about Pride is that I get to witness genuine intergenerational mentorship happening year-round. Every generation of the Pride Family truly leans in to learn from and support one another. It is a constant inspiration and gives me hope that we will well steward the dreams of our Stonewall Generation and our collective Legacy of Liberation.
P.S. Please join me and the Pride Family as we honor community pioneer Jeri Dilno next Saturday with a street renaming ceremony.
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.