Community pride celebrations welcome all
In the year of the Stonewall riots’ 50th anniversary, Davis Pride’s theme is #StonewallStrong, commemorating the 1969 event that helped spark the modern-day gay rights movement. Davis Pride will be held on Sunday, May 19 at Central Park and will consist of the Run/Walk for Equality at 8 a.m. and free Music Festival and Community Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free event, Davis Pride will feature “live entertainment, merchants and community resources, fun zones geared toward children, teens and seniors, food trucks, vendors and dance parties,” according to a press release.
The event is hosted by Davis Phoenix Coalition, an organization that, according to its website, was created to “engage the Davis community in ongoing efforts to eliminate intolerance.” Proceeds from the Run/Walk for Equality will benefit the coalition’s efforts, which include projects such as Yolo Rainbow Families, The Gatherings Initiative, Davis LGBTQ+ Youth Group, Upstander Carnival and other ad hoc projects responding to events in the community and seeking to constructively address problems the community faces.
Mayor Pro Tempore Gloria Partida, who is the co-chair of Davis Phoenix Coalition, began the coalition and the Run/Walk for Equality to honor her son, Mikey Partida — who is a runner — and his recovery from a 2013 anti-gay attack. The run takes the place of a march or parade, with the Music Festival and Community Fair included so runners would have activities to return to after the run, according to Pride Director Sandré Nelson.
Tracey Tomasky, the co-chair of Davis Phoenix Coalition — along with Partida — and a volunteer coordinator for Davis Pride, commented on the significance of the Run/Walk for Equality and encouraged UC Davis students and residents to participate.
“It’s held a special place,” Tomasky said. “Mikey used to and he still does run, and so for Gloria, that was really important to have that run, and to have that in Pride.”
For the Music Festival afterward, Bay Area pop artist Xavier Toscano will headline a lineup of 25 artists, including Cheer Sacramento, Josh Diamonds, Rebel of Oakland, Cathy Speck, the Badlands Sacramento Drag Revue led by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and season three contestant of the show Mariah Paris Balenciaga, Sacramento Women’s and Gay Men’s Chorus and other musicians arranged by the Davis Live Music Collective.
Both Pride Director Sandré Nelson and Anoosh Jorjorian, the coordinator for youth programs at Davis Phoenix Coalition, said Davis Pride is unique compared to other cities’ celebrations because it is community-based. Nelson emphasizes that the event is free and focuses on making needed resources available, such as suicide prevention and basic needs. Jorjorian said she feels Davis Pride is family-friendly and not as commercialized as other Prides.
In the years since its creation, Davis Pride continues to grow. Nelson estimated about 3,500 people attended Davis Pride last year and said the organizing committee hopes to see an increase to about 4,000 attendees this year.
For Nelson, this year’s #StonewallStrong theme means both recognizing the contributions previous generations have made to fight for equal rights and continuing what was started. Nelson hopes this year’s festival honors those previous generations.
“We picked #StonewallStrong to just remember to stay focused on [the fact] that we would not be here today if there was not this big event that happened 50 years ago at the Stonewall Inn,” Nelson said. “We’ve come a long way, but we’re not where we need to be, and we want to make sure that we can focus and also the younger generation keeps focused on that — that it’s just not handed to us, that there was a fight and there’s still a continuing.”
Going along with this message is a new “Senior Zone,” which seeks to include seniors in an event that is traditionally geared toward younger generations and facilitate intergenerational conversations. Jorjorian said the senior zone will be near the teen zone.
“We’re hoping that [this] set up will encourage a lot of conversations between the senior members of our community and the youth of our community as well,” Jorjorian said. “The young can learn from the elders, and the elders can maybe learn about some of the changes that have happened amongst the younger generations in our community.”
Jorjorian said that youth in the Davis LGBTQ+ Youth Group are excited for Davis Pride, and that she, too, is looking forward to the day.
“I enjoy everyone being out, and there’s just this palpable sense of joy that everybody has, just celebrating being together and showing off their pride,” Jorjorian said.
The event is open to all ages and welcomes all, including UC Davis students. Tomasky encourages students to attend but knows they are often unaware of Davis Pride.
“Pride is a place for them really to have fun, and it’s also a place for them [students] to connect with the community and for the community to connect with them,” Tomasky said. “Because they are an important part of our community, and so the more that we have an opportunity to interact — especially while we’re having fun — that’s most meaningful.”
Jorjorian added that she sees potential for more partnerships between the LGBTQIA community on campus and in town.
“If there’s anyone on campus who’s interested in doing community-based projects, [Pride] is a really good way to connect with the community, [and] realize that there is a larger LGBTQ+ community in the surrounding Davis area — and in the county — and connect with some organizations who are doing some of that work,” Jorjorian said.
For the Run/Walk for Equality, registration is $37 until May 18, and $40 on the day of Davis Pride.
Written by: Anne Fey — firstname.lastname@example.org