San Diego Pride Goes Virtual For A Second Year
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego pride is one of the largest civic events in San Diego County. At least it was before the pandemic. Last summer, the organization held an entirely virtual event. Many we're hoping by this summer things would be back to normal, but with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the organization announced this week, it would not be holding a large in-person festival or parade. It will however, have a series of smaller in-person events and another virtual festival that people can watch from home. Joining me to talk about this decision is Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego pride. Fernando, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:37 Thank you so much for having me, Andrew, what Speaker 1: 00:39 Led to this decision to hold both the virtual and smaller in-person pride events? Speaker 2: 00:44 You know, it was a really challenging process of months of talking to our community partners, public health officials, looking at our finances and just seeing what was possible. So we wanted to try to find a way that could still uphold the integrity of finding joy and community space while also giving access to folks who weren't quite ready to leave their homes. Speaker 1: 01:08 Last year, pride created several hours of streaming content for people to watch from home. I recall you saying you all became like TV producers, basically. What will this year's pride look like both the virtual festival and these smaller in-person events. Speaker 2: 01:22 So, yeah, you're you're so right last year we pivoted all of our programming online. We have over 30 programs that we do year round and we reached over 750,000 people through that programming. We think this year it's going to be more of highlighting some of our awardees, uh, some of our, uh, activists in the community and a lot of LGBTQ artists, poets dancers, and just different arts and culture that is really coming through our LGBTQ community, uh, in the virtual aspect, um, for the in-person stuff. But I think one of the things that maybe if you haven't ever been to the festival folks might overlook is it's really produced by not only us, but about a hundred different community partners. So there's, uh, LGBT artists, there's black, culturally competent resources and art there's, uh, things for the Latin X community, the API community, trans healthcare, STI testing, and HIV testing. Uh, and so what we're really trying to do is uphold the integrity of all the different cultural and resource areas that we have, but do them remotely and safely throughout all throughout San Diego County. So we'll see how we do in a few months. Speaker 1: 02:33 How has San Diego pride been impacted financially by the pandemic? Speaker 2: 02:38 Well, our, uh, obviously our huge big fundraiser that we produced to put on all these year-round programs is the greatest festival. And so we went from being a $4 million organization to just over a $700,000 organization, uh, overnight. So it was quite the decrease. Uh, but one of the great that we did was about five years ago, our board could us on a strategic pathway have been planned to make sure that we rebuilt our reserves to a point where we could sustain a year of tragic financial loss, um, and some sort of unforeseen incident. And so I was happy that we, we got there a couple of years ago. So when COVID hit, we made the decision to operate at a loss. So we could continue producing these year-round programs for the LGBT community and try to provide access in space. And in these virtual, you know, sort of spaces that we became our new reality last year. So that's sort of how we have adapted to this and happy to say that we're still financially, you know, hobbling along. We're maybe taking another financial loss this year. We'll see how the government relief goes and fundraising goes, but we're, we're committed to seeing through this year, even if we have to take another financial loss, but our pre-planning and reserves allow us to do that. Speaker 1: 03:58 This past year has seen both advancements and setbacks for the LGBTQ community and equality. Why are pride events still important in 2021? Speaker 2: 04:09 It's so important. I think for folks to recognize that not every person who is LGBT has a safe and welcoming environment in their day-to-day life, whether that's in their homes, their workplaces, or their institutions of faith. And so what pride really provides is an opportunity to be safe and opportunity to find community and new found family and connections. And I know we had some huge victories right over the last several years for marriage equality and equal rights. Um, as we're getting closer and closer to, to that equity for our community and instill LGBTQ hate crimes have been on the rise, including here in San Diego. Uh, we've seen our rights under attack, especially for the trans community, uh, all over the television, which is retraumatizing and particular for our trans youth. Our rights are being debated in Congress. They're being debated at the Supreme court this year. Speaker 2: 05:07 And so we know that what we are fighting for is a community for, uh, equity for equal treatment under the law, that work is still not done. And so part of what pride provides is a huge amount of visibility and education for our community around the, that rights and equity. And the other place is just a place to find community connection and safety that we don't always have. So prides are still so needed as they're still so important here in San Diego, all across the country, in the world. And for many folks, uh, all over the world, pride is the first thing that you go to, or the first way that you see an LGBT movement really starting to spark itself is by just finding a community and giving that community visibility. Speaker 1: 05:49 I've been speaking with Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego pride. Fernando, thanks for joining us. Thank you so much.