After two years, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center will again hold the Sacramento Pride festival in person this weekend.
This year’s Pride celebration comes at a poignant time after a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has been either introduced or signed into law across the country. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 300 of these bills have been introduced in 28 states.
Sacramento Pride team organizer Jason Alviar explained that the team sees the precarity of this year and has planned that into the festival, happening June 11-12.
“We're dealing with so many different legislators just actively trying to take away people’s rights and we want to make sure that we’re even more visible, we’re even louder, and now more than ever, the pride march aspect of Pride is going to mean so much more,” Alviar said on Insight.
Alviar joined with Pride team organizers Collin Lourenco and Camille Adams to speak with CapRadio’s Insight Host Vicki Gonzalez about this weekend’s Pride March and Festival.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On what attendees can expect this Pride Festival
Collin Lourenco: Well, at the festival this year, you can fully expect there to be fabulous entertainment, great food vendors, great exhibitors that show off all of the different local businesses and different flavors, sights and sounds of Sacramento and the greater LGBT community.
What will be a little bit different this year is we have kind of rebranded a few of our areas on our map. We've also completely changed the layout. We really understand it's going to be a hot one this weekend, so we've made sure to put things in the shade. We've added a wellness area.
We have a youth and family area that has lots of great activatives as well as we have two large stages and a youth centered stage. And those two stages have a varied amount of entertainment and talent lineup, primarily sourced right here in our own backyard.
On the events that inspired Sacramento Pride
Camille Adams: In 1979, that was a pivotal year for Sacramento’s LGBTQ community.
In March of ‘79, police raided the popular gay club — it was called Upstairs Downstairs.
And they were harassing patrons, instilling fear into their patrons. That was a multiple-day raid. They had no offense disclosed and ultimately resulted in the opening and pouring out every bottle of alcohol in the bar.
They had a beer and wine license and in order “check to make sure they weren’t selling liquor” they essentially devastated them financially and createing fear into our queer community.
That same year there was a drive-by shooting at another gay establishment called Bojangles. It was also the first year that Sacramento held Pride. We had over 3,000 people march to the Capitol, celebrating how far we had come since the 10 years prior with Stonewall while also focusing on the activism and work that still needed to be done.
This year, we are continuing Pride in Sacramento with that same notion — celebration meets activism. Celebrating our achievements toward equality while also fighting to create a community where the LGBTQ+ people are safe and thrive.
It’s kind of what Sacramento Pride is … It’s just something that’s worth fighting and worth celebrating, I think.
On why Sacramento Police won’t attend the festival in uniform
Jason Avliar: Well, in 2020, the [Sacramento LGBT Community] center announced its next steps to support racial justice. And as a center, we came together and basically just provided a way to keep communities safe and to keep them feeling more safe.
We created an internal policy to no longer allow armed uniformed law enforcement officers at center facilities or events, including at Sac Pride … unless as a last resort or in a true emergency.
We wanted to be cognizant and be understanding that police at Pride or police at any center events means different things to different people, and we wanted to make sure that everyone feels safe and everyone feels welcome.
So the compromise of having non-unified police officers seemed like the best course of action for everyone in the community.
On the Center’s goals and vision for the future of Sacramento Pride
Collin Lourenco: So, as the event manager leading this project for this year, our vision we have is to continue to grow the footprint of the festival, to be able to welcome more guests as well as add to the march, is what we would like to grow.
Right now, we’re seeing a little over 50 contingents in the march, meaning that the overall march parade will last about an hour to 90 minutes.
I would love to see it grow to something like … in San Francisco Pride, where they have an all-day march and parade. So that’s something we would like to be able to continue to grow.
And the ways we can do that is by our outreach like this, where we’re talking about what Pride is and what our goals are for pride in our area, in our neighborhood of Sacramento, and get more folks to participate in viewing and also marching with us, and get more news media outlet coverage so people can really see all the great work and welcoming inclusion that is part of Sacramento Pride.
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