Richmond Rainbow Pride marks 10 year anniversary with parade and festival

Richmond Rainbow Pride marks 10 year anniversary with parade and festival
Blessing from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Richmond Rainbow Pride event at the Richmond Civic Center Plaza on Sunday, June 2, 2024. Photos/Soren Hemmila

Richmond Rainbow Pride kicked off the 10th Anniversary Pride event with a parade from Nicholl Park to the Richmond Civic Center Plaza Sunday, followed by music and live performances.

State Senate candidate Jovanka Beckles reflected on her years as the first out LGBTQ+ member of the Richmond City Council and the beginning of Richmond Rainbow Pride in 2014.

“It was not that much fun sometimes being an out queer woman. It was not always fun to stand up for who I am and standing up for my community,” Beckles said. “I was the brunt of a lot of I would say the word is abuse.”

Beckles said after years of seeing folks bring homophobic language and vitriolic language and hate speech to council meetings, the community had enough.

“When the community came out in solidarity, that was a pivotal moment. I’m really proud to have been a part of Richmond’s history,” Beckles said.

Like old times, Richmond council gadfly and perennial candidate Mark Wassberg began heckling Beckles.

“I’m not going to get thrown off. Because y'all understand what PTSD is, right?” Beckles said. “Someone is here trying to do that to me again. That same individual that was there throwing a whole bunch of vitriol.”

Ten years ago, District 2 Councilmember Cesar Zepeda, a former president of Richmond Rainbow Pride, was sitting in the front row of the council chambers witnessing the vitriol, questioning how this could be happening in 2014 in the bay area.

Zepeda and Beckles talked about the lack of LGBTQ+ resources in Richmond.

“I lived here my whole life, but most of it was closeted,” Zepeda said. "Once I came out, I went to San Francisco because it is so much easier to find community."

Zepeda said Richmond Rainbow Pride was created to build a local community that grew out of a response to the homophobic displays at the council meetings.

“We came together and sometimes in fear, if we did this what would happen?” Zepeda said on Sunday.

Richmond Rainbow Pride’s first event was a park day, and participants were asked to bring a friend.

“As queers, we’re not going to do anything small,” Zepeda said. “So we wanted some music. If we were going to have music, we’re going to have to have a stage. If we have a stage, we’re going to need more performers. We’re going to need food and lots of music.”

Sister Vina Sinfurs gave a blessing for the event on behalf of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

“We are nondenominational, and dressing like a clown nun doesn't necessarily give you superpowers,” the sister said. “Our blessing is love. It is the love we share. We try to absorb, reflect, and spread that, and you all spread it here.”

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