Trans activist and actor Laverne Cox will kick off one of the West’s biggest Pride weekends.
By Cait Brennan – Jul 3, 2014
San Diego Pride Preview
Trans activist Laverne Cox kicks off weekend of events
She’s been on the cover of Time magazine and took Katie Couric to school. Now actress and trans activist Laverne Cox will rally San Diego Pride’s Spirit of Stonewall at the 40th annual San Diego Pride festival.
The rally is the opening event during Pride weekend, July 18-20.
“We’re thrilled to have Laverne at San Diego Pride,” said Fernando Lopez, public affairs director of San Diego LGBT Pride. “The LGB community is finally waking up to trans issues, and as that happens, mainstream America is finally starting to enlighten themselves to the issue and they’re ready to have that conversation as well.”
It’s part of the biggest San Diego Pride yet. “It’s our 40th anniversary and we’re bumping it up this year,” Lopez said. “If it looks like there’s even more this year, there is. We tried to push forward for our 40th.”
Another big name featured at Pride will be California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who will speak at the rally and serve as parade grand marshal.
“She was our first lesbian mayor, and she’s done great work around trans rights, access to HIV/AIDS health care, and she’s been completely active in the community,” Lopez said. “She’s been there every step of the way in this movement, and has been at the forefront. We take great pride in her.”
Lopez said San Diego Pride has come a long way over the years.
“Forty years ago, San Diego Pride was just a couple of dozen people with paper bags over their heads because they were afraid of the persecution they’d face,” Lopez said. “Now the speaker of the assembly is an out, married lesbian who’s speaking at our rally and she’s our grand marshal. That’s a huge shift, and what a great punctuation to our 40th anniversary.”
Festivities on July 18 shift from the rally to a block party in Hillcrest, San Diego’s LGBT neighborhood, with carnival rides, food, drinks and go-go dancers.
“We take over the streets,” Lopez said. “You can really feel the sense of community.” Cox’s Orange Is the New Black co-star, musician Taryn Manning will be the headliner, along with DJs John Joseph, Dirty Kurty and Nikno.
San Diego’s unique status as a military town gives San Diego Pride its own distinctive flavor, one it wears proudly.
“We were the first in the country to have an active duty parade contingent from all branches of the service, and in 2012 we received approval from the Department of Defense to have full uniforms worn in a Pride parade. People come from around the country for just that part of the parade,” Lopez said.
“We have the largest concentration of military personnel in the country and the largest concentration of LGBT members. People are really connecting with that, and they love the fact that they’re able to be completely themselves, both military and gay, and embrace that,” he said.
The two-day music festival encompasses will include headlining R&B star Deborah Cox, Canadian rockers The Cliks, top house DJ Robbie Rivera, Glee star Alex Newell and others.
NASA has partnered with San Diego Pride for its first-ever official LGBT festival event. “It’s called the Destination Station, and it’s a 30-by-40 foot interactive exhibit to get people excited about space exploration, and the benefits of that research on Earth,” Lopez said.
NASA will also host interactive activities and events in the Children’s Garden and Youth Zone areas. “It’s so exciting to see NASA extending diversity and getting young queer folks interested in the STEM fields,” Lopez said. -E
|VITAL STATISTICSSan Diego Pride
Spirit of Stonewall Rally,
6 p.m. July 18, featuring activist and
Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox,
Toni Atkins and Nicole Murray Ramirez.
Pride of Hillcrest Block Party,