Political Notes: Bay Area cities celebrate Pride Month

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday May 30, 2022
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Helping to raise the Progress Pride flag with gay Morgan Hill City Councilmember René Spring, in white shirt, were Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, left at flagpole, and Melissa De La Cruz, in cap. Photo: Courtesy Kevin Rodriguez Cristobal
Helping to raise the Progress Pride flag with gay Morgan Hill City Councilmember René Spring, in white shirt, were Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, left at flagpole, and Melissa De La Cruz, in cap. Photo: Courtesy Kevin Rodriguez Cristobal

Cities around the Bay Area are marking the start of Pride Month this week with flag raising ceremonies and preparing to celebrate with their LGBTQ residents at various events throughout June. A number of California cities and counties are also marking the first statewide Queer and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islanders Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday.

Leaders in the South Bay city of Morgan Hill got a jumpstart to the annual Pride Month observances by raising the Progress Pride flag at their City Hall Saturday, May 21. Unveiled in June 2018 by nonbinary designer Daniel Quasar, that version of the rainbow flag includes a chevron with the colors of the transgender flag, as well as brown and black stripes to denote people of color.

In attendance were gay Morgan Hill City Councilmember René Spring and Ivan Rosales Montes, a gay man on the city's public school district board. Mayor Rich Constantine helped Spring raise the flag a day prior to Harvey Milk Day, observed annually in California as a day of special significance on the birthday of the state's first out gay elected official.

"Thank you all who came out for the Morgan Hill Pride flag raising ceremony today! We are ready to welcome and to celebrate the upcoming Pride month of June again!" Spring later wrote in a Facebook post about the ceremony.

Also on hand to assist in raising the pride flag was Melissa De La Cruz, whose son Marcus was a young LGBTQ+ community member from Morgan Hill who died by suicide four years ago. De La Cruz was invited to address those who had gathered for the ceremony.

"Melissa (and her mom Kathy) attended the event, and I asked her to tell her story and Marcus's! So, we raised the flag in his honor, too!" Spring told the Bay Area Reporter.

Redwood City is raising the Progress Pride flag at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, on the flagpole in its Courthouse Square. The Peninsula city is also hosting a mini-Pride event Tuesday evening in conjunction with the flag raising where the first 150 people will receive a rainbow cookie.

There will also be LGBTQ resources, information booths, and a photo booth for attendees to enjoy. Additional information about the event can be found at the city's Facebook page.

San Mateo County officials will raise the Progress Pride flag on the flagpole in the courtyard at the County Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 1. It is the fifth flag-raising ceremony at the county government complex at 400 County Center in downtown Redwood City.

Joining Supervisor Carole Groom for the special occasion will be members of the county's LGBTQ commission and Pride Initiative, as well as staff of the San Mateo County Pride Center. Those unable to attend in person can watch via a livestream on the LGBTQ commission's Facebook page.

Groom will also be on hand, along with Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley, for when the county raises for the first time the Juneteenth flag at 9 a.m. Friday, June 3, also at the County Center. Like the Pride flag, the flag in honor of the African American federal holiday that takes place on June 19 will remain up throughout the month.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed will host the annual rainbow flag raising at City Hall at 1 p.m. this Thursday, June 2. It comes as Breed is in a clash with the city's Pride committee over its policy that police officers cannot march in the parade this year in uniform. Breed, along with newly appointed gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, formerly the spokesman for the chief of police, are joining with the city's first responders in refusing to march this year unless Pride officials reverse course on their police uniform ban.

The city's Transgender District announced last week that the staff of the cultural district in the Tenderloin would not attend the flag raising ceremony or any other official city and county Pride events and celebrations unless Breed changed course and issued an apology for her decision not to march in the parade.

It called on other transgender-serving and/or LGBTQ+ groups to do the same. The Castro LGBTQ Cultural District announced Friday that it would follow suit and and boycott any of the city's official Pride events in solidarity with the trans district.

The district's statement called Breed's actions "a betrayal of inclusive values and ethics" that have made San Francisco a safe haven for trans and other queer people for decades. Her decision "breeds," added the district, "of transactional allyship instead of promoting allyship without conditions."

"We urge Mayor Breed to reverse her decision, and to apologize to both San Francisco Pride and the broader LGBTQ+ community," stated the district.

The day prior to the flag raising gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is kicking off Pride Month with the unveiling of an art show in his City Hall offices featuring the works of six local LGBTQ+ artists. Called "Queer View: A Celebration of Art," the show includes the works of its curators, Joseph Abbati and Jun Yang, as well as that of artists Simon Malvaez, Lea Magdangal, Serge Gay Jr., and Anthony O'Donnell.

The opening for the show will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, though those wishing to attend it need to arrive before 5 p.m. due to City Hall closing at that time. Mandelman's office is on the second floor of the building in Room 284.

A new mural on the facade of LGBTQ nightclub Oasis, in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood at the corner of 11th and Harrison streets, will be officially unveiled at 2:30 p.m. this Thursday. Entitled "Showtime," the mural is a collaboration of five queer artists — Gay Jr., Malvaez, J. Manuel Carmona, Elliott C. Nathan, and Christopher McCutcheon.

Oasis will have its first float in the city's Pride parade this year since it opened its doors in January 2015. It is accepting applications from those wanting to march with its contingent that Sunday, June 26, via its website.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose is hosting its sixth annual Proud of My Family event Saturday, June 4. The institution noted it is one of the few Pride events aimed at young children and their families.

Special activities will include the making of rainbow celebration streamers for a visitor-led parade, live performances, exploring the meaning behind the Pride colors, commemorative family photos in front of the Pride flag, and resources from the LGBTQ+ community. For more information about the event, click here.

The San Mateo County Fair will host is third Family Pride Day Sunday, June 5, with various special events and activities. It begins at 11 a.m. and will be capped by a performance from singer Gloria Gaynor starting at 7:30 p.m. To find more information and buy tickets to the fair online, click here.

The San Mateo County Pride Celebration is coming back for its first in-person Pride Event in three years Saturday, June 11. The free, sober, family-friendly, countywide event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Central Park in the city of San Mateo. More information can be found here.

QTAPI Week events

Last Tuesday, May 24, the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara, plus the cities of San Diego, Oakland, and San Jose, all declared the first-ever statewide QTAPI Week. It runs from May 29 to June 4.

"As May is a month for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage and June is a month for Pride, both also represent the necessity to recognize that our struggles and liberation are inextricably connected," said queer San Francisco resident Nick Large, one of the founding partners of the Bay Area QTAPI Coalition. "Our QTAPI week is a proclamation not only that we will take up space, but also that we will not allow ourselves to be under voiced and have our diverse community ignored as a monolith."

San Francisco last year became the first city in the country to officially recognize QTAPI Week, as the B.A.R. reported at the time. It had kicked off on May 22 in 2021 to coincide with Harvey Milk Day and came amid an uptick in violent attacks and harassment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the COVID pandemic.

Events are taking place over the coming days across California to mark the second annual QTAPI Week. Information about the various events can be found here.

"Even in San Francisco in the year 2022 there is still more work to be done to make Pride more inclusive, elevate non-white and nonbinary voices, and celebrate the immense diversity within our own LGBTQ+ community," stated Mandelman, who introduced the resolution adopted by his board colleagues May 24 proclaiming QTAPI Week in the city.

In San Francisco, the Progress Pride flag will be raised in the city's Japantown for the first time as part of the weeklong event. The flag raising ceremony is being organized by the Japantown Rainbow Coalition and will begin at noon Saturday, June 4, in the Japantown Peace Plaza.

Large will emcee the event as his drag queen persona Kristi Yummykochi. There will be remarks from community leaders and a performance by Jiten Taiko, a Taiko drumming ensemble based in San Francisco.

"As a South Asian woman of trans experience, I have often had to navigate out of my cultural identity to ascertain my gender identity," stated Oakland resident Anjali Rimi, president of Parivar and co-founder of the Bay Area QTAPI Coalition. "I am grateful for the visibility for QTAPI folx in the city of San Francisco and to be able to bring my whole self to this world."

The flag should be raised at 2:30 p.m. It will remain on the flagpole in the plaza through Monday, June 6. For more information about the event, visit its Facebook page.

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Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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