This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is why we are honoring our seniors and the Stonewall generation for all they’ve done for the community as our collective Community Grand Marshal. While our community had fought back against police brutality before the Stonewall Riots, the 3-day protest in New York City that began on June 27, 1969, is widely seen as the spark that ignited our modern day LGBTQ movement. In the following years, our LGBTQ community around the country rallied together to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, first as Christopher Street Liberation Day Marches and eventually evolving into annual LGBTQ Pride events we hold today all across the globe.
In San Diego, our brave LGBTQ community held a protest march in 1974 through the streets of downtown. Many of these marchers walked with paper bags over their heads, shielding their identities to protect themselves from arrest and/or from losing their jobs, homes, and families. In 1975, members of our community received the first permit to commemorate Stonewall and to celebrate LGBTQ pride, paving the way for the City of San Diego and our region to recognize, honor and celebrate the lives of our community. Without the bravery of those trans women, drag queens, butch lesbians, fem gays, street kids, and other LGBTQ folks at Stonewall Inn, and without the LGBTQ activists that kept the fire burning throughout the nation and here in San Diego, there would be no Pride.
This year, we honor and reflect on the Stonewall generation, on their activism, and on all that our community has gained through their efforts. The Stonewall Generation carries on the legacy of the Stonewall Riots and has paved the way for our contemporary movement. These are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit shoulders that we all stand on today, and we are honored to name them our Community Grand Marshals.
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 him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.