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In Midst Of Pandemic, San Diego Pride Online This Weekend

 July 16, 2020 at 10:23 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:01 Like Comicon baseball and other large outdoor gathering. San Diego's annual pride parade has been canceled this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event has shifted online. Joining me to discuss how it's going to work is Fernando Lopez, junior executive director of San Diego. Pride. Welcome to the, Speaker 2: 00:19 Thank you so much for having me happy. Speaker 1: 00:21 Oh, thank you. And what was it like transitioning this 200,000 person event to an online venue this year? Speaker 2: 00:27 It has been quite the task and I couldn't be more proud of the team for completely shifting, not just this weekend's event, but really the entire organization. San Diego pride is a year round education and advocacy organization with more than 37 different programs. And so right away, when all of this started, we had to immediately shift everything into online and streaming formats. And then the big challenge became how do you do that for something as massive as the single largest civic event in the region with over 350,000 people in attendance. And we got creative and I think we are going to pull something off this weekend that our community is going to be really proud of. Speaker 1: 01:08 Yeah. But it's all brand new. Right? Uh, you had some specific challenges that you really had to think about and work on, right? Speaker 2: 01:14 Oh, absolutely. We have a amazing large volunteer team of over 150 LGBT and ally community members who every year and all year round give their specific skillsets and passion and time to the organization to make sure that all of our programs and pride weekend runs successfully. And so all of a sudden that giant production team and leadership team had to learn all of these new skills. So that way we could produce all of these videos, um, and just change everything that we do into this online format when we essentially became TV producers, uh, in the matter of weeks, in some ways. And then definitely for this weekend was an enormous task with thousands of people working to have hundreds of people, editing videos, just to be able to produce these about eight hours of content on Saturday. Speaker 1: 02:04 What are some of the online events that stand out to you as you put this all together? Speaker 2: 02:08 So this last weekend we had our LGBTQ women's event. She Fest, which on a normal year we'll have about a thousand to 1500 people participate. And this year we had over 16,000 people tune into the live event. And while it was streaming live, there were simultaneously happening for different at any given time like workshops with different education and classes and performances that were happening on the side that people were able to tune into. And that was hugely successful. I never could have imagined that that would have been that successful. And then last night was our spirit or our light up that cathedral event where almost 20,000 people tuned in. And that really focuses on LGBTQ interfaith organizing and social justice work that happens through our faith community for our movement. So, I mean, we've already had two very successful events and then is our spirit of Stonewall rally, where we honor the origins of our movement, talk about the issues that we still have to overcome and just call to action. And I'm really excited for that. And then of course probably live this weekend. Speaker 1: 03:12 Well, it seems these online events are increasing access, as you say. Um, pride has been criticized about that previously, is this something pride may continue in future years, post pandemic when we're back doing a real live event parade and such? Speaker 2: 03:26 Oh, absolutely. We're, we've just been overwhelmed with how much positive response there has been to this programming. And so a lot of this is going to stick with us. We're our spirit is Stonewall series that we did where we took each of our awardees. And instead of just putting them up on a stage and have something, their bio and a website, we gave them a 30 minute to one hour live streaming segment where folks were really able to get to know these people, their organizations, and how to get involved. So that's definitely something that we're going to keep going forward. I think it was a huge success. Speaker 1: 03:57 It's a huge economic driver for San Diego, as well as a big fundraiser for your organization. What do you expect the monetary impact will be of not having the in person event? Speaker 2: 04:07 Well, for San Diego pride, the organization itself it's represents about a two point $5 million loss to the organization, but we've been fundraising all year and we're still fundraising. So if people want to chime in and make a donation to us, that would really be helpful because we are the single most philanthropic pride in the world. We've given out more than $3 million to LGBT serving organizations locally and all across the globe. So that is impacted all of our education advocacy work is funded by this weekend. So we're hoping that folks see it, uh, that they're able to make a contribution and donate to San Diego pride. And the other piece of that is so many local small businesses and in particular, LGBT small businesses are impacted by pride. We have a 26 point $6 million economic impact in the city of San Diego. So without the massive in-person event, that's definitely going to be yet another financial strain on all of these businesses that are already hurting Speaker 1: 05:03 As if we need more strains these days in San Diego. Well, the Supreme court rule last month that gay and transgender workers cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. I assume that's something that this year's pride is going to celebrate as well. Speaker 2: 05:17 Absolutely. The title seven Supreme court victory was a huge win for our movement. We're going to ride that wave. Absolutely. And we'll be talking about that. We'll be talking about, of course the black lives matter movement and the ongoing and systemic police brutality that happens towards the LGBT community and to communities of color, whether they're black, Latino, or indigenous communities. And in particular, our trans communities that, you know, we've been seeing a global uprising and response to that. And that's also the origins of the pride movement, right? Pride started as, as a riot against police brutality. And in many ways that work continues. There was some news as well Speaker 1: 05:58 This year, uh, this all leads me to the suspected homicide of a trans woman in Imperial County. That was a very disturbing story. What does Maryland's death say about where our country is with trans rights? Speaker 2: 06:11 You know, um, that really hit me personally. Um, I'm from the Imperial Valley and I grew up there 21 years ago. I left because I received death threats. People literally tried to kill me in the Imperial Valley and I got out and I came to San Diego as a homeless youth. And 40% of our homeless youth are LGBT identified and trans women are being killed all over this country at epidemic rates. And there is so much work to do there. And so the death of Maryland has really impacted me and has really impacted our region. Uh, we're working directly with [inaudible] the executive director of the LGBT community center down there to try to support them as best we can. A lot of our leaders here are from the Imperial Valley. So we're doing our best to really help the movement down there in the community down there. And we're all grieving Speaker 1: 07:03 Organization announced last month that police would no longer be involved in the pride parade and festival that it will be reconsidered once a, a series of steps are taken. Why did your organization decide to make that move? Speaker 2: 07:15 So we've been asked by the LGBTQ black and trans community for a very long time to remove law enforcement officers or law enforcement agencies from participating in the pride parade, SDPD his own data shows that there is a disparity in the treatment of how law enforcement officers treat LGBTQ folks and the black and Brown communities. And so that disparity is real, that sort of systemic discrimination still exists. And a lot of that has to do with implicit bias and San Diego prides mission is to make sure that we're calling out discrimination and meeting it head on. And so what we've done is finally listened to the LGBTQ black community and said, okay, we see that this discrimination is real. And so how can we find a way to address this? Like obviously we know that SDPD and local law enforcement agencies do so much to keep us safe and particular at the pride event. Speaker 2: 08:11 So that's not going to change. They're still going to be there to keep us safe every single year. But what is going to change is, as we've witnessed all of this trauma online of police brutality and the murder of innocent black and Brown Americans, that that is trauma and that it's traumatizing and we're being respectful of our LGBTQ black communities and this intersectional movement and saying, we're not going to allow these agencies to March down the parade for the time being with, you know, full uniform and their weapons because that's retraumatizing for a lot of folks in our community. So while we have the utmost respect for what they do to keep us safe, we also want to be respectful of the black community and what they're asking us to do. Speaker 1: 08:52 And what sort of reaction have you gotten from barring police from, from pride and what's been the police department's response? Speaker 2: 08:59 Um, well, I can tell you that the majority of the response has been overwhelmingly supportive. We had more than 70 organizations sign on with our proposal and about 700 individuals while we've received only about 40 complaints. So I think folks really see what's happening on a local national and global level. And they're saying enough is enough. And it's time to change the system that hasn't been working for. Everyone. Obviously we've made progress law enforcement officers aren't barging into our bars and arresting us, but they are going into innocent people's homes and shooting them dead. And that's traumatizing for folks. And so we're able to acknowledge that there are multiple realities that are happening. There is positive change. That's happened in our community and our movement in particular with law enforcement, but there's folks who have also been left behind. And the folks who have been left behind are still a lot of LGBTQ folks are trans folks in particular and especially our black and Brown community members. Speaker 1: 09:56 I've been speaking with Fernando Lopez, junior executive director of San Diego pride. Thanks very much for joining us. Speaker 2: 10:01 Thank you so much for having me happy pride. Speaker 1: 10:04 This weekend's events kick off with the spirit of Stonewall rally on Friday. And for more information about all the online virtual pride events go to their website, SD Speaker 2: 10:22 [inaudible].

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The organizers of the various Pride events have worked to rethink them, so that the event can happen online this year.
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