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Parties, Parade Set for S. Bay Pride

by Heather Cassell

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who recently announced he is running for re-election, draped a rainbow flag over his shoulders at last year's Silicon Valley Pride
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who recently announced he is running for re-election, draped a rainbow flag over his shoulders at last year's Silicon Valley Pride  (Source:Jo-Lynn Otto)

Silicon Valley will be filled with Pride this weekend with events celebrating the South Bay's LGBT community.

Saturday, August 26 will kick off with the third annual Proud of My Family event at the Discovery Children's Museum of San Jose and the 42nd Silicon Valley Pride's second annual Night Festival.

Sunday will be a festive day with the Pride parade and celebration.

"The annual Silicon Valley Pride event provides a great opportunity for the entire community to come together to show our love and support for our LGBTQ friends, family members, and neighbors," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter.

Under Liccardo's leadership, San Jose supported a ban on city employee travel to states that enact discriminatory laws, installed a rainbow crosswalk near the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center, converted single stall restrooms at City Hall into gender-neutral bathrooms and installed appropriate signage, joined the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination organization, designated Khanh Russo as the mayor's LGBTQ liaison, and attended many LGBT events.

Liccardo talked about the importance of supporting the South Bay's LGBT community in the face of "abhorrent acts of hate in other parts of the country," and vowed "continued commitment to the values of inclusion and respect that we hold so dear here in Silicon Valley."


Silicon Valley Pride

Thaddeus Campbell, CEO and president of Silicon Valley Pride, is excited about the South Bay's celebration.

There has been a tremendous "groundswell of interest in Pride this year," Campbell, a gay man, told the Bay Area Reporter.

The party kicks off with Saturday's Night Festival featuring five DJs spinning from 6 to 11 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park in the heart of San Jose.

"We expect a bigger turnout this year from last year," said Campbell, a gay man, about the nighttime festival. "It's steadily growing and interest is certainly picking up."

He pointed out that the Pride board listened to the community and incorporated suggestions, such as cutting the entrance in half to $5.

Partiers 21 and over can hang out in the adult beverage area; the special section was a hit last year, Campbell said.

The celebration will continue Sunday, August 27, when Pridegoers pour into to Plaza de Cesar Chavez following the parade for the festivities that start around noon.

Festival headliners musicians include Cazwell, Kym Sims, and Thea Austin of Snap. Logo TV's "RuPaul's Drag Race" stars Chi Chi DeVayne (Season 8) and Milk (Season 6) will entertain the crowd that is anticipated to be up to 5,000, said Campbell.

"When I'm in the throes of a party or some sort of event it always brings it right in the forefront," said Sims, referring to witnessing the tremendous changes since the 1990s when she first performed at Silicon Valley Pride, then known as San Jose Pride. "It just makes it feel grateful to be a part of it.

"I've been very, very lucky to be embraced by the LGBTQ community," added Sims, who is an ally.

She plans to perform her newer singles, "Turn It Up" and "Deep in the City," along with 1990s dance hits "Take My Advice" and "Too Blind To See It."

Campbell said that there would also be entertainment for kids and families at the Pride celebration.

"We are going to have lots of entertainment for the kids and for the family," said Campbell, who didn't express concern about the Proud of My Family event at the Discovery Children's Museum.

"I think the population can support both events," said Campbell. "I'm not too worried about the two competing events."

Campbell anticipated that this year's Pride parade will have more than 800 marchers. It kicks off at 10 a.m., Sunday at St. John Street and will wind its way into the celebration at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

Silicon Valley Pride has also attracted MillerCoors as a sponsor, which partnered with Equality California with its Tap Into Change program. MillerCoors will donate proceeds from every Coors Light or Miller Lite sold to EQCA.

Before Coors Brewing Company was acquired by SAB Miller several years ago, it was the target of a boycott by LGBTs, dating back to the 1960s, largely over its anti-union and anti-LGBT stance. For some, that boycott continues today even though the company has scored a perfect 100 points on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for the past two years.

EQCA will be among the 100 community organization booths at SVP. The festival is one of 17 Pride events across California the organization chose to participate in this year. It hopes to engage with South Bay LGBT and ally community members to "promote love and to resist hate, racism, and bigotry," according to EQCA deputy director Tony Hoang.

"Our participation in Silicon Valley Pride is a statement that despite the hateful rhetoric we are seeing at the national level, we will stand together to support social justice for every person, despite their race, sexual orientation, gender identity or religious faith," wrote Hoang in an email, adding that EQCA plans to mobilize the South Bay's Pridegoers around its legislative priorities and other actions.

Michael Nordman, a gay man who is the community affairs manager of MillerCoors, said that it is important to support community organizations, such as EQCA, doing the work on the ground.

"For us to be able to have a program where you can try beer and where you can give back is a great opportunity," said Nordman. "It's important that you're visible, out and enjoy Pride."

The budget for Silicon Valley Pride's festival and parade hasn't changed since 2015, and is an estimated $168,000, Campbell told the B.A.R. However, for the second year in a row, Campbell didn't deliver on his promise to confirm SVP's annual operating budget to the B.A.R. after multiple attempts.


Museum Event

Proud of My Family at the Children's Discovery Museum will hold a variety of events for kids and their families throughout the weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

New this year are two performances by the Rainbow Women's Chorus at 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday and the Crochet Jam with Ramekon O'Arwisters in the Art Loft both days.

"We hope they enjoy the songs and possibly the message that the songs have and that we sound really good," said Eileen Hamper, a 77-year-old lesbian who has sung with the chorus since 1998.

O'Arwisters, 57, hopes to teach kids - and their parents - how to have fun crocheting.

"I'm very excited about it," said O'Arwisters, who is celebrating Crochet Jam's fifth anniversary. "It's kind of revolutionary."

O'Arwisters, a queer man, said crocheting is a public art that "fosters social interaction, creativity, and liberation."

"They just crochet and whatever happens, whatever form they create, whatever shape they make, their job is to just accept it as it is," said O'Arwisters.

The kids will be able to pick the colors, fabric, and patterns they want to crochet and take what they create home with them.

Kids and their families will also be able to dance at the Rainbow Dance Party, participate in the popular "Rainbow Reflections" installation and make friendship bracelets, along with other events throughout the weekend.

"All of these families are connected by love and that's what's important for us to remind everybody about," said Jenni Martin, director of education and strategic initiatives at the Children's Discovery Museum, who oversees Proud of My Family.

Martin, a 53-year-old lesbian, is especially proud about the museum's leadership showing other museums how to welcome LGBT families, and its larger purpose of welcoming all families.

"The Children's Discovery Museum really wants to be about being a reflection of our community and being a great resource and a great opportunity for all children and all families," said Martin.

The museum anticipates welcoming 3,000 people over the weekend, said Cecilia Clark, public relations manager of the Children's Discovery Museum.

Proud of My Family is a part of the museum's annual Cultural Celebration series, she added.

Tickets for the Silicon Valley Pride celebration are $5 per day cash, $6 per day via credit card, and free for children under 12 years of age.

Children's Discovery Museum entrance to Proud of My Family is $15 per person.


For more information about Silicon Valley Pride, visit http://www.svpride.com. For information on Proud of My Family, visit http://www.cdm.org/event/proud-of-my-family

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