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Executive Director Of San Diego Pride Says The 'Fight Isn't Over'

San Diego State University student Amber McKinney helps raise a rainbow flag to celebrate Pride, July 7, 2017.
Megan Burks
San Diego State University student Amber McKinney helps raise a rainbow flag to celebrate Pride, July 7, 2017.
San Diego Pride
San Diego Pride GUEST: Fernando López, executive director, San Diego Pride

Tonight rainbow lights will shine at the UC San Diego Health Center in Hillcrest. The annual lighting ceremony is one of the first events of San Diego Pride. We'll be talking more later this week about the events coming up this weekend but today our focus is on the preparation and theme of this year's Pride Festival and joining me is Fernando Lopez is executive director of San Diego LGBTQ pride. And Fernando welcome. Thank you so much for having me. You've chosen the theme persist with pride. Tell us what that means. This is the forty ninth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. And while the LGBT movement didn't necessarily start then that's where we owe the origins of pride to and the struggles that we fight day after day year after year can weigh down on you. And I think you see how hard and how diligently our community is still fighting to this day. And that relay race of mentorship in this movement. And so we really wanted to talk about the persistence that is required in order to be a part of that long ongoing struggle and that that fight isn't over yet. That word persists had a certain frequency earlier when a Senate leader Mitch McConnell said that. Yet she persisted when he was talking about Elizabeth Warren reading something against a nominee and I'm wondering if you thought of that too. We absolutely did. It really resonated with us and it just rings true. There is a persistence in those onslaughts are ongoing and you need that resolve. You need that fortitude to continue this battle through what we're still facing many LGBTQ people across this country who are still fighting so many battles you can still be fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment in 28 states across the union. And I think people forget about that we feel so protected here sometimes in San Diego or in California but we even feel that discrimination here. How so. It depends on where you are. I think for folks who live inside the LGBT bubble or create one for themselves we have found family and they think that's something that you've heard the LGBT community talk about is our found family and a lot of folks say oh kids have it's so easy these days that we've made so much progress for the LGBT community. And that's true we have. But we also forget sometimes that half of our children are still born into homes that at this day and age are hyper polarized and so young children are being raised in homes that maybe before would ignore LGBT issues. But now the vitriol is being spewed from their own faculty at school and their friends because they're hearing it from their own families and some institutions of faith. Not all. And that has led to 40 percent of homeless youth being LGBT identified. But we know that 40 percent of the population is not LGBT but parents are throwing their children out like garbage and leaving them on the streets. And that's coming from somewhere I suppose he'll be watching closely tonight as President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee. Oh absolutely. And this is really terrifying time for a lot of people in the LGBT community whether it was the Perry case or the Hollingsworth case O'Berg Feld Lawrence v. Texas or the Windsor case. These were all cases that we relied on Justice Kennedy to weigh on the side of equality in the LGBT community. So the next Supreme Court justice has the opportunity to roll back so many protections for our community that we've been fighting for for all these years and not just the LGBT community we're concerned about women's rights and the rights of all people who are at risk with this new appointment. Do you believe the decision on same sex marriage could be reversed by a more conservative court. I know that there are people in the anti LGBT movement who are working diligently to place laws in different municipalities and states across the country and strategically pursue court cases and rulings within different districts and judges to attempt to break that away. And so with the right or wrong Supreme Court Justice those rights and protections are at risk. Can you talk to us about some of the bridge building initiatives that you have planned at this years Pride. This week we'll be doing an interfaith gathering at St. Paul's Cathedral. And while religion has been used as a weapon against the LGBT community so often we forget that religion has also been at the forefront of the LGBT movement as well. And that here in this region there are over 100 open and affirming LGBT congregations. There are many people in our community who hold faith very nearly and dearly as do our friends and family and for them it is not something that is separate that they can believe in their own personal faith. And that can also support the LGBT community. And so it's important that we recognize that we'll also be kicking off the parade with an interfaith prayer just before it starts. This year as well because we want to show that religious freedom is an LGBT issue and LGBT issues are religious freedom issues. You're an expert in LGBTQ history. How would you describe the current time in the history of the community. I think contemporarily we're seeing an interesting uprising and we saw it at Stonewall when we fought against the legal governmental oppression of our community. We saw it again after the loss in Proposition 8 where more people than ever were getting engaged in the LGBT movement. And I think after the last presidential election we've seen the onslaught of attacks that have come against the LGBT community all across the country. And that's really activated folks. And it's stirring something up in people and a fear in folks about what potentially damage could be done to our community. So I'm seeing more and more people engage. And from a perspective of pride we're seeing a huge increase in potential attendance this year we're looking at numbers around 69 percent ahead of last year when we had a quarter of a million people last year will be very interesting at pride to see how people are ready to engage with our community and support our community. It's scary but that fear is leading to a resolve to action. And I hope that that means that our community shows up to vote in November. This is your first Pride as executive director. What's it been like. Yes it just became executive director. And it's interesting you learn every day I think you listen in a different way more intently I hope to the people in your community and you serve a diverse community. There is no one way to be on the spectrum of LGBTQ plus individuals. And I think it gives me an interesting perspective on the diversity of our community and I hope I'm doing a good job and I guess we'll find out this weekend. I've been speaking with Fernando Lopez executive director of San Diego LGBTQ pride. Fernando thank you. Thank you so much.

Rainbow lights will shine at the UC San Diego Health Center in Hillcrest Monday night.

The annual lighting ceremony is one of the first events of San Diego Pride.

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The theme of this year's Pride parade, festival and rally is "Persist with Pride."

Fernando Lopez, the new executive director of San Diego Pride, said the continuing struggles the LGBTQ community faces can weigh on those involved.

"We really wanted to talk about the persistence that is required in order to be a part of that long ongoing struggle and that that fight isn't over yet," Lopez said.

Lopez joins Midday Edition Monday to discuss the current challenges the community faces.

Executive Director Of San Diego Pride Says The 'Fight Isn't Over'
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