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Roundtable: In-person Pride Festival returns to San Diego

 July 15, 2022 at 12:00 PM PDT

S1: This week one of san diego's biggest events is back live and in person. Balboa Park , Hillcrest and downtown are all hot spots for Pride 2022. We're talking about the meaning of getting everyone back together after three years apart and the work that's being done to keep the party safe. I'm Matt Hoffman , and this is KPBS Roundtable. Hello and welcome to our discussion this week. I'm KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. And joining us this week are KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen , CBS eight anchor Jessi Pagan and San Diego Pride's bilingual program coordinator , Chris Sotomayor. I want to thank you all so much for being here with us. Let's start with Chris from San Diego. Pride here. For those who maybe haven't attended a pride festival or are curious to know more , this is a lot more than just a parade.
S2: It's probably the biggest in the region. So we are expecting a good number of folks to , number one , come ready for crowds. Number two , please come ready for weather and come comfortable outside of that. Get ready for music , dancing , food , entertainment activities. We have something for kind of everybody , right ? Like a lot of folks think that pride is mainly for single folks or folks that like to go to like parties and things like that. But we actually have a lot of family activities and a lot of things going on for young people as well. So folks just come ready to have a good time.
S1: It sounds like a lot of fun to be had for all. And we have Jesse Pagan here , and he recently reported on the history of Hillcrest and how the Pride Parade is a big part of that history. We're going to dive more into that in just a bit.
S2: We have a lot of no cost parking options for the community. In addition to that , we have kind of full details of the kind of things that you can expect as far as safety , comfort , food and all that kind of thing. And really , outside of that , we just want folks to come ready to have a good time and experience joy that we maybe haven't had access to in a while.
S1: And Jesse , we know that KBS say that you guys are going to be live streaming the parade on Saturday morning.
S3: So essentially , we're going to be Marcela , my co-anchor , every night at 10:00 on the CW , San Diego. We are going to be there as it's happening in front of us and very much kind of hosting the parade for the digital people and the digital world. So it's going to be on all of our platforms. So that means , YouTube , Facebook , our CBS eight app and pretty much anywhere else that you find CBS digitally , it's going to be on there. Marcel and I are going to take you through the entire morning starting at 10:00 all the way until it finishes. And it's going to be you know , we're going to talk about all the floats that are passing by , all the events that are going on , all the kind of historic little nuggets and iconic things that we're celebrating along with pride. A bunch of guests , including , you know , CBS folks and other community leaders and all the tomfoolery that you've known to come and expect from Marcel.
S1: And we also have KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen here with us. And Andrew , many people know you've been working in San Diego for several years now.
S4: A couple of years ago , we had three openly gay city council members as a third of the city council. Right now we have two , but we also have an openly gay mayor , Todd Gloria. And there's always been or not always. But , you know , in recent years , there's been a decent amount of representation of the LGBTQ community in the state legislature as well. We're still very much lacking any representation of the trans community and at least in elected office. And of course , we know that representation alone doesn't solve all of the problems of homophobia and transphobia , but the representation that we do have and that has continued over the years , I think , is something that San Diego can be really proud of. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. And turning back to Chris Sotomayor from San Diego Pride. You know , there's so much more happening this weekend. So I'm curious , what do you recommend for somebody who maybe wants to avoid some of the bigger crowds ? And I'm also curious if there's anything in particular that you're looking forward to.
S2: So for folks who want to avoid kind of the big crowds and we're not like , you know , crowd people like Jesse said , we will be livestreaming the parade and parts of the festival. So you're welcome to join us digitally through those platforms. In addition to that , on our website and our social media , as we are highlighting a bunch of smaller community events , we are so blessed to have so many wonderful community partners , not just other LGBTQ orgs , but other organizations. So if folks want a little bit more information , they can follow us on social media or check out our website. And something that I'm really looking forward to , I'm really looking forward to the Stonewall rally. So that is this Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. at a time. It's a little bit more of a sober time , right where we take a second to celebrate community leaders. And when we take a second term , we look at our community and not the strides that we have made. Yes. And also names the things that we still have to work on. Right. And how far we still have to go. So it's a really beautiful moment. And we'll be awarding some local leaders. I'm really excited to see them.
S1: And we know that pride it rivals Comic-Con for San Diego's biggest tourist event of the year. And this one goes to all of you. What do you all make of how San Diego has grown its LGBTQ community and how it's become , you know , sort of a welcoming place for people around the world ? And Andrew , we'll throw this one to you first. Sure.
S4: Well , a big topic of my coverage at KPBS is housing affordability. And I think that's a really important topic to consider when we assess how , quote unquote , welcoming San Diego is. So , you know , say a young queer person is exiting the foster care system or maybe they ran away from an unsafe home. It doesn't really matter how welcoming San Diego is if that person can't afford to live here. Hillcrest became the heart and center of the LGBTQ community , in part because decades ago it was a relatively affordable place to live , and people who were fleeing homophobic or transphobic suburbs or the countryside could find a place where they could call home there and feel welcome. That's not necessarily the case anymore. Hillcrest is only getting more expensive. Looking at it from a policy angle , like how the city is trying to solve that , the San Diego Planning Department right now is working on a plan to add the capacity for a lot more density and taller buildings in Hillcrest. There's been a lot of resistance to that in the community , particularly from older and wealthier homeowners who like the way the neighborhood is now and don't want it to change. So that's a really important. I think that we have to keep in mind when we're talking about how welcoming San Diego is , and it's one I'll continue to follow.
S3: You know , I echo a lot of what Andrew is saying from the policy perspective and the hard core perspective. You know , hard business , hard finances , hard policy stuff. Only being here in San Diego and in Hillcrest , where I do live for the past year and a half , I've kind of come in with that growth kind of pre-established. But one thing that I've noticed about Hillcrest is that it's something that I've kind of noticed about every other gay pride , as I like to call them , that I've lived in or that I've visited , is that business is king. You know , your local business owners , they truly are community leaders. And a lot of the time Gabriel Hoods become Gabriel Hoods because of the business owners who have the guts and the hotspot to say , no , I'm setting up shop here , come hell or high water , and I'm going to serve this community. And the neighborhoods grow around that. And as we all know , when it comes to , you know , planning , development and how cities develop , you know , first it was water and then business. And from there , the neighborhood grows around it. So I'm kind of , like I said , to circle around jumping into that growth , seeing it in front of my face already. And I'll tell you , Hillcrest is a thriving and very moving neighborhood. Yeah.
S2: Yeah. So , you know , definitely echo Andrew and Jesse on first the importance of business and also housing and the state of housing right now. Right. And obviously , this this week , this weekend in particular , we are taking a time to celebrate queer joy specifically because we typically don't have a lot of queer joy , a lot of instances to celebrate our joy. Right. And with that said , it's also important to remember that we have a really long way to go , particularly for LGBTQ folks of color , particularly for the transgender community. I mean , there have been over 200 pieces of anti LGBTQ legislation introduced just in the last few months alone , right , in the United States. So San Diego is a beautiful haven. I think California can a lot of California cities can be beautiful havens for the LGBTQ community. But it's it speaks to the fact that we need to find a haven because it can be so dangerous and unwelcoming in other areas. Right. I'm so honored to be in the city. And also we have to give room and space to talk about what we have to work on.
S1: Well , and let's spend a minute talking about the history of pride and how our culture is in a much different place than it was back in 1994. That was the very first year of San Diego Pride Parade. Jesse , you covered this for CBS in recent days.
S3: You know , Hillcrest is not baby kind of neighborhood. Hillcrest has been around for decades , way back to the early part of the century and decades ago. It was already an LGBTQ centered neighborhood. It isn't one that's coming up through that , through gentrification or whatever development process it's been , and a haven , as Chris said , in a way , for quite a long time , you know , dating back decades back before that first parade , back to at least to the seventies.
S1: And you sort of alluded to it a little bit , but all that archive material that you guys have over there can be it really helps tell this story.
S3: There's no vaults , but there is a ton of old school tapes. I mean , CF and B , we were one of the first media enterprises in San Diego. We signed on way back in 1949. So naturally with that we just have tons and tons of archive video of whatever it may be , which as a lot of people might know , we've been showing off through our news throwbacks. So the way we came around to this idea of looking back on Hillcrest specifically was throughout those decades that we've had series that just focused on San Diego neighborhoods and showing that off. I mean , we had , you know , that in now was a 1980s series that did just that and compared neighborhoods from 1980 to what they look like decades ago. Before then we had the Our Town series with the great , you know , Doug Oliver and Connie Healey as well , jumping around there back in the seventies and the eighties as well. So we have all these pieces that focus specifically on our different neighborhoods. And just recently we did a that and now kind of full circle moments on a lot of neighborhoods. But we didn't do Hillcrest there and I was like , let's look at Hillcrest. Let's. What ? We've got archival footage of Hillcrest and we found some things. One was from the 1990s , which I was kind of surprised to see that it looked somewhat similar to what it does now. And then before then , it was way back in the seventies , which of course looked a lot different. So we kind of took those previous stories as our kind of guide and we said , you know , if they have a shot of , you know , university and six , let's go put the camera there today at the same angle and see the differences. And so that's kind of what we based it off of. Yeah.
S1: Yeah. And if you haven't seen it , you have to go check out Jesse Story. But turning now back to Andrew , Andrew Bowen from KPBS News. You mentioned a little bit earlier you talked about Mayor Todd , Gloria , and he recently attended a pride celebration at the White House.
S4: And by the way , he's not just openly gay. Of course , he is part Puerto Rican , part Filipino , part Dutch. And he's an enrolled tribal member. He's one of the probably one of the most prominent elected officials in the country. He's part of the Klink tribe , native to Alaska. And Gloria has had to deal with homophobia on the campaign trail. There were some really egregiously misleading attack ads that went out over his support for a state bill in 2020. That's something I covered at the time. A few years ago , there were some stories of San Diego police officers that were using a very offensive and homophobic nickname for him. And then there will there are always , you know , trolls on Twitter , on Facebook who use the fact that he's gay to mock him or criticize him. It's not to say every criticism of him is because he's gay , but a lot of people kind of lean into that homophobia , which is unfortunate. And so I think that just illustrates how even in San Diego in 2022 , there's a lot of work to do. As as Chris kind of alluded to , we are we have not yet purged homophobia from our society. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. And Chris , we know that you do a lot of intersectional work as Pride's bilingual program coordinator. I'm curious what drew you to focusing your work efforts on connecting with young people and Spanish speakers ? Yeah.
S2: So I think like most folks that get into the nonprofit realm , right , you have a an original pain or this kind of pull towards the communities that you sort of came from as a native Spanish speaker and as a person who when we spoke Spanish at home , I felt often like I had to pick between my Latina , that then my queer identity , right ? And I was a different person at home than I was outside of the house. And I felt like and I did eventually. Right. Have to make the choice between my identity and my family. And I just I didn't want other people to experience it. Right. I wanted to help parents understand their young people. And I wanted young people to to find somebody like them as an adult because I didn't see adults like me. Right. So I had to there was no other option.
S1: And we definitely appreciate you sharing your story there. And we know that a turning point in the LGBTQ movement was the Stonewall riot back in 1969. And the phrase pride started as a riot is a callback to that history. That protest spirit was revived last month with the overturning of Roe versus Wade. We want to open this up to everyone here.
S4: One of the first thoughts that I had was , I wonder how much longer my marriage to my husband is going to be still valid in all 50 states. There is a clear appetite from at least one of the Supreme Court members , Clarence Thomas , to revisit some of the decisions that have expanded gay rights across the country. Obergefell , which legalized same sex marriage nationwide , and he even mentioned in his his concurring opinion , Lawrence v Texas , which was the decision that struck down anti-sodomy laws. It is frankly bizarre and scary that in 2022 we're even discussing the possibility that states would be able to make it illegal for two consenting adult men to have sex in the privacy of their own home. But that is where we are. We have to recognize that. And I'm sure it's going to be on the minds of a lot of people coming into Pride weekend. Yeah.
S2: Yeah. To echo Andrea , I think it's inescapable , right ? This is such a it's on the forefront of everybody's mind. Reproductive justice issues are not just women's issues , right ? They're LGBTQ issues. They're human issues. This is a human problem. This is a human issue that we have to address. Right. So it's our everybody's forefront. And we are excited , our pride at least , to give people an opportunity to celebrate for a little bit. And also we want to name that celebrating right now is really hard. It's really hard for a lot of folks. Absolutely.
S3: Absolutely. I mean , I hate to say it to say it again , but I have to echo both of you guys. You guys hit the nail on the head. I think one thing that a lot of people might be maybe harking back to is the fact that , yes , pride is a celebration. But as the saying goes , pride was first a riot. So I think what a lot of people might be thinking about this pride season and I've talked to folks who have celebrated already their pride and they said the same thing is that while we're having fun , we're also using it as an opportunity where the entire LGBTQ and Allyship community is together to talk about these issues that we're facing now at this very moment in time.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Roundtable , and this week's discussion is all about Pride Weekend. In San Diego , we have KPBS , Andrew Bone , KPBS age , Jesse Pagan and San Diego Pride's Chris Sotomayor. Andrew , turning back to you again , something in the news lately with the connection to the LGBTQ community is Monkey Pox. We've seen a handful of cases locally , including a person that you talked to earlier this week. Let's first hear a portion of that interview with Clark Moreno as he talks about his experience.
S3: The testing apparatus and getting me in. Although it worked very well for me , I was the only case that day that I'm aware of. It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to get one person tested. And so I am afraid that if there are multiple cases that the process is. Not.
S2: Not.
S3: Streamlined enough. I know that vaccines are sort of controlled by the federal government , so it's really hard there. But one of the things that we could definitely do is try and get testing locally. The fact that it took me close to five days to get my results back and given that , that can be as long as it takes for the virus to appear in other people and then the vaccines to wait. They should try and get it down here as soon as possible.
S1: Our listeners can hear that full interview on KPBS San Diego News Now podcast.
S4: And before I go any further , I just want to explain for anyone who is listening that monkeypox is a lot less contagious than COVID. It's a lot less deadly than COVID. So that's something to be grateful for. And it primarily spreads from skin to skin contact. It can also be spread by sharing clothing or bedding or even extended face to face contact or kissing if somebody has sores in their throat. But something that we've seen in other cities that had pride events a few weeks ago , San Francisco , New York , are that they're seeing their case counts rise as more people are coming in to close contact with each other , both sexual and non-sexual contact. And because , as as Clark alluded to , the disease's incubation period before sores start appearing on somebody's body can be as short as five days. It could be as long as three weeks. And so it might take a few weeks for us to understand just how much this illness is spreading right now , how it's how much it's going to be spreading in a couple of weeks. And there's really no reason to believe that San Diego will be any different from some of these other cities that are seeing their case counts rise. So those limitations on testing that Clark had talked about in that clip there confusions about how or where to get tested , the length of time you have to wait for your test results , the extreme shortage of monkeypox , vaccines , all of those things , I think are cause for concern for us right now.
S1: And we should note , the county officials say that they haven't seen community spread that they know of. But they say that that's likely on the way. And Andrew , we've seen some examples in the past when a public health warning can cast a stigma on a particular demographic.
S4: This disease is primarily affecting men who have sex with men right now , but that won't necessarily be the case forever. Diseases don't discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. And another trope that we need to avoid is the perception that gay men are somehow to blame for this. Diseases spread. They're not to blame. They're the ones who are suffering from it. Epidemiologists have been warning of the potential for a widespread monkeypox outbreak for more than a decade. We've had a very safe and effective vaccine for this disease since 2019. And yet the federal government has failed to order enough vaccines in its strategic national stockpile. And now there are thousand , literally thousands of of men who are hoping to get vaccinated and will probably not be able to get vaccinated for several weeks or even months. So I think that everyone , journalists included , need to be really careful to avoid blaming the people who are suffering from this illness and instead focus their attention on the people in power who could have prevented this disease from spreading but failed to do so.
S1: And we also know that COVID 19 is still here with us and this current variant , Bay five Bay , for they're highly contagious.
S2: Honor those boundaries. No party , however wonderful it is , is worth you sacrificing something or being dishonest with yourself about your comfort level. Right ? So be comfortable. Also , please note our pride event is open open air and it is a very , very large space. So there is plenty of accommodation for you to keep safe and also honor your boundaries. You know , do do what feels best for you. Absolutely.
S3: Absolutely. And also , if you want to take a proactive approach , remember , we haven't talked about it in a while as a society , but the COVID 19 vaccines are still there. They're still readily available. If you haven't gotten your booster , that may be something that people might be looking into. I know a couple of folks already who said , you know , ahead of pride , I haven't got my booster yet for X or Y reason. I'm going to go ahead and do that. So that may be another thing for you to do. And also , as Chris said , stay outdoors. We live in sunny , beautiful , gorgeous San Diego with perfect weather , year round. So many bars and spaces and restaurants that are going to be celebrating pride have outdoor spaces. And that's another option for you. And that might be something that people are thinking about staying outside , maybe not going into , you know , the steamy hot room in the middle of the summer at the bar or the club and staying on the patio instead.
S1: And as we wrap up here , Chris , where should people go for details on Pride Weekend ? And do you have any other last minute tips for those who are thinking about going ? Absolutely.
S2: So please visit SD pride dot org. That is SD Pride dot org. We have all the information on there and most importantly , parking sucks. Please use our free parking options please. It's going to be hot. Please hydrate. Please , please hydrate. And most importantly , I am talking to you. My queens avoid high heels. And.
S3: And.
S4: Good tip.
S1: And Jesse , if you could give us one final reminder on how people can watch the pride parade.
S3: Yes , CBSA , it will be live streaming the entire parade starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday. You can watch on all our digital platforms. That means our website CBS eight dot com YouTube , Facebook , the CBS eight app on your phone if you've got it as well.
S1: And we're going to have to leave the conversation there. I want to thank you all so much for your time. Chris Sotomayor from San Diego , Pride , Jesse Pagan from CBS eight , and Andrew Bohn from KPBS News. You can listen to the KPBS roundtables show as a podcast that I met Hoffman. Thanks so much for being here with us. We'll be back with you all next week.

Students raise the LGBTQIA+ Pride Flag outside San Diego Unified School District offices in University Heights to honor Pride Month, San Diego, June 2, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
Students raise the LGBTQIA+ Pride Flag outside San Diego Unified School District offices in University Heights to honor Pride Month, San Diego, Calif. June 2, 2022.
The 2022 San Diego Pride Festival and related events are underway this weekend amid an uptick of public health and safety concerns.

KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman hosts a discussion on the first in-person Pride Festival since the start of the pandemic and San Diego's place in the larger LGBTQ community. Guests include KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen, CBS 8 anchor Jesse Pagan and San Diego Pride Bilingual Program Coordinator Cris Sotomayor.