Since before Stonewall, LGBTQ people have too often been severed from family and support networks. Our queer resilience and ingenuity have made us experts at the concept of found family. Over the generations of our movement, our creativity has shone through in the way we build spaces, resources, and community for ourselves. From the early days of the Pride movement to now, community members volunteering their wisdom, strength, and time have shaped who we are as an organization and our celebrations.
In the 70s, it was a handful of volunteers fighting for permits, selling buttons for revenue, and hand-cranking mimeograph flyers to distribute around town. As the years cycled on, volunteers would bring in new insight and help us build a better Pride. In the late 80s and early 90s, volunteer board members Christine Kehoe, Larry T. Bazza, and Vertez Burks envisioned a professionally run nonprofit Pride organization that could be philanthropic, their early work made us the first Pride in the world to have an Executive Director and the most philanthropic Pride in the world.
From queer parents, like Carolina Ramos, helping San Diego be the first Pride in the country to have a Children’s Garden now celebrating its 27th year, to the late Dan Schaefer creating our event’s senior spaces, we rely on our volunteers to see what’s possible and build more. It was Angela Van Ostren who first saw the potential to make our Pride more accessible, and what started with a few ramps is now a major volunteer-run department of Pride providing an array of services all year round.
Every year thousands of volunteers come together to build our event and organization as we have since the beginning, and every year their insights help us to be better than the year before. Each of us is adding on to that inspiring work, standing on the shoulders of our Stonewall generation.
To our volunteer leadership from each program and department, to our volunteer board, to every once-a-year and 8-hours a week volunteer, thank you for all you do. To our community who enjoys these events and programs, please thank a volunteer when you see them. To anyone interested in joining the Pride Family, take a look at our open leadership opportunities or simply register in the volunteer system. My gratitude to all who volunteer in service to our community. It is by your efforts, always and especially in the last two years, that we can stabilize, grow, and thrive as we prepare to return to a full-scale Pride this year in pursuit of Justice with Joy!
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.