The first time I went to San Diego Pride’s Spirit of Stonewall Rally was in 2000. It was only a few weeks before that I had been homeless and living in my car. I was from the rural border town of El Centro which had a very anti-LGBTQ climate. There was no Pride. No LGBTQ community. Back then I didn’t know what Pride was. I didn’t know what acceptance felt like. I did know LGBTQ people had events called Pride and I knew it was in Hillcrest. I headed that way.
I stumbled upon a large group of people standing in front of The Center facing a woman speaking from the front patio, and for the first time in my life I heard the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender” said with pride on a loudspeaker with pride and joy instead of as a slur or behind a whispered hand. As I listened to the speakers talk of justice and a better future, I was filled with kinetic inspiration. For the first time, I wasn’t alone. I found community. I found hope.
The Spirit on Stonewall Rally has been held every year since the first permitted Pride in 1975. Each year, speakers educate us, inspire us, and dare us to not only envision what justice lies over the horizon but to work for it. Barbara Gittings, George Raya, Lavern Cox, George Takei, Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria, Margaret Cho, Larry Baza, and so many others have been a part of that legacy.
Each year, we celebrate local community members and organizations who dedicate their lives to LGBTQ justice and joy. Jess Jessop, Brad Truax, Jeri Dilno, Wilson Cruz, Tracie Jada O’Brien, Carolina Ramos, Chris Shaw, Dwayne Crenshaw, and Benny Cartwright are just a few of the 340 LGBTQ leaders who were awarded for their movement-building efforts.
Who inspires you? Who brings you joy? Who guides you to justice?
Nominate them today.
The Spirit of Stonewall Rally is a time for us to honor our origins, celebrate those who are leading the way, and call us all to action around some of our movement’s most pressing issues. This year we will face critical elections and a barrage of anti-LGBTQ legislation all across the country, each of which will impact our community’s pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Who is standing in their way? Who is holding the line? After 22 years, the rally still is my personal favorite part of Pride weekend. It calls me home, lifts my heart, and helps me remember what we’re fighting for. Will you join us and be a part of helping our community pursue Justice with Joy?
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride
P.S. Nominate your inspiration here.