Hello hello, beautiful people! Jorge Guillen here, President of Pajaro Valley Pride. I have a message for y’all that I would like to express on behalf of the PV Pride organization. So much going through my head and overall feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude and joy. First and foremost, we want to thank everyone single person who came out and supported the event. I had the opportunity to talk with folks during the breaks from MCing and it was a delight to see so many beautiful and happy faces. Our vision was to create an LGBTQI+ event for the community, by the community, and together we accomplished exactly that. For that reason, we continue to do what we do, and none of it possible without the generous support we receive from our community. We strive towards building bridges and creating inclusive community spaces for ALL walks of life, and thanks to the many community organizations and community members that contributed on Sunday, we were able to accomplish that.
It takes an entire community to create these spaces, and it takes kind, loving, compassionate, accepting, and understanding people to create these social events. We are both proud and grateful for the folks and organizations who helped us manifest our vision for our 4th Annual Pride event. We want to thank Ezra Bowen, Ashlyn Adams, and The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz for their support and for leading the teen zone, which included a trans cloth swap. It can be very difficult for many trans and LGBTQI+ folks to navigate through society and have access to basic needs. We are grateful this resource was available at Pride. Thank you!
A special thank you to Alejandra Santiago, our Grand Marshal for 2019, for being a fierce advocate for our community and for representing us. We share many core values and could not be happier to follow your leadership. Thank you to Paul Richmond with Paul Richmond Studios for the beautiful live painting display, and for gifting Alejandra the beautiful and touching painting you created during the event.
We also want to send a huge thank you to our sponsors this year for their generous contributions. Thanks to you, we were able to accomplish so much. The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Watsonville for the on-going support over the last 4 years, and with special thanks to Chris Davis and Richard Garza for all the behind the scenes office support they provide. The YWCA for opening their doors to our community and allowing us to gather in celebration. And of course Faust Spa and Salon in Santa Cruz for all the support we have received over the years. A special thanks to Rob Watson and Sebastion DeEldon for their passion and dedication in helping us create a strong scholarship program. We also want to thank Paul Richmond for using his talents and artistic expression to help fund our scholarship program.
We want to thank Christie McCarthy, her wife Cybele, and Maria Cherem for partnering with our organization and putting on the Girls Rock benefit concert back in May. Thanks to you, we were able to make connections with people in our community who shared our vision and made great contributions and because of your support, we were able to award $2,000 to our scholarship recipient this year. Congratulations, Sophia Elizalde! We are proud of you.
We want to send a huge thank you to the following organizations and folks for their support and participation.
The Watsonville Film Festival for their important work and for bringing Happy Birthday Marsha to screen and share at our event; a huge thank you to Consuelo Alba for her leadership, and the entire Watsonville Film Festival team for their dedication to making our community a stronger, inclusive and vibrant one.
A huge thank you to all our performers who came out and shared their artistic talents with us; Ryder Moore, Athena D’Amore, Violet Jai, Cyanide Cyn, Leonardo Chavez, Madame X, Nicole, Watsonville local band Wabi Sabi, and a special thank you to Ensemble Folclorico Colibri for sharing a beautiful display of traditional Mexican culture for all of us. All of you were amazing and we are so grateful to you all for gracing us with your energy and love!
We had many LGTBQI+ Elders and Trailblazers among us, including our Community Hero recipient, Gloria Nieto. We are eternally grateful for all the work you have done and for the roads you have paved not just for the Pajaro Valley community, but to the overall contributions that have led to a better society for LGBTQI+ folks. There is still a lot of work to do but your sacrifices, knowledge, and guidance have opened many doors.
We also want to thank the following organizations for their participation in bringing and making their resources available to the Watsonville and Pajaro Valley communities: Food What?!, CAB 2020 Census, California Rural Legal Assistance, Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations, Indivisible South County, Pajaro Valley Water Management, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Salud Para La Gente, Monterey Bay Murals, the Monterey Health Care Department, Special K9 Search and Recovery, Teen Health Outreach, Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, UCSC, the Environmental Science Workshop in Watsonville, Trans Family of Santa Cruz, The DigitalNest from Watsonville, Live Like Coco, and Second Harvest Food Bank. We also want to thank Mario and Jessica with The Ballesteros Company for bringing yummy dishes to the event, and for their support as allies and friends.
We want to thank the folks and community organizations that came out and provided interactive activities and educational workshops. Thank you, Karen Ross, for the self-care workshop, The DigitalNest for covering our event through a podcast and interviews, the Live Like Coco organizations for sharing free books with our attendees, Carry Ward for putting together the Divination Corner, Stephanie Suarez for helping us connect to LBGTQI+ inmates, advocating for them, and creating postcards to send them and help them feel seen, Esperanza Del Valle and Alex Santana Jr. for providing free Fandango lessons, Molly Tabler for pampering folks at the beauty station, Planned Parenthood for providing free safe sex education, Diane with Childish for providing block activities for the kiddos, the Flower Power team who gifted beautiful flowers, and Kimberly Rodriguez for the face painting station.
We want to send a shout out to all who participated in our march and making it our best one yet. Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations, Santa Cruz Pride, Monterey Peninsula Pride, PFLAG Santa Cruz County, Monarch Independent Living Services, Indivisible South County, Greater Purpose Community Church, The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz, the Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Santa Cruz, and all the community members that joined us. And HUGE thank you to the GLBT Alliance for the generous donation received during the event.
We want to thank all our LGBTQI+ allies who showed up in solidarity and support. The LGBTQI+ equal rights movement is not possible without allies that are willing to listen to us, understand us, and connect with us. We had several elected officials in attendance whom we are grateful for their attendance and participation. Thank you to our very own city mayor, Francisco Estrada, who with the blessing of the Watsonville city council, presented a proclamation to our Grand Marshal. Thank you councilmember Rebecca Garcia from the city of Watsonville who was also in attendance; Councilmember Tyller Williamson from the city of Monterey, Cabrillo College Trustee Adam Spickler, Santa Cruz County Superintendent Faris Sabbah, representatives from Assemblymember Robert Rivas, and John Laird, a trailblazer in his own right advocating and working at different levels of government as an openly gay man in elected office, fighting for LGBTQI+ rights. Thank you for joining us and supporting our work.
We want to thank ALL the volunteers who made our 4th Annual Pride event a huge success. Y’all were rockstars and helped make this event run as smooth as possible, and we are grateful for the energy y’all brought with you, not just the labor but the love, joy, and smiles that carried us through the day. A special thank you to Tam Welch and Trevor Bautista for helping our stage and sound run smoothly. A big thank you to Dean Maynard for generously loaning us the sound system, and Dina Izzo with Santa Cruz Pride for letting us use their safety vests and walkie talkies. We also want to thank Jimmy Dutra for bringing his jump house for the kids zone, and for his on-going support since day 1.
We know that the last couple of weeks have understandably caused anxiety among folks in going out to public events, for that reason we took extra measure to help folks feel as safe as possible. We want to thank Panther Security Services for being there to be our eyes, and we also want to thank Chief David Honda and Lieutenant Brian Flores with the Watsonville Police Department for adding additional vehicle patrols in the area during the event.
As an organization, we feel incredibly fortunate for all the support we received in making this year’s Pride celebration a reality. As you can see, it really does take a village, and the village showed up on Sunday, August 19, 2019. If we missed you, please know it is not intentional and know we are grateful for your contribution and participation. Thank you all.
I personally want to thank my PV Pride colleagues for the tremendous amount of work and dedication they continue to show for our community. Every year we face different challenges and every year we find ways to overcome them, together. I especially want to thank them for trusting me and allowing me to speak on behalf of the organization. We are a singularity with an equal voice and our individuality brings out the best of each other. Through them I learn and grow every day. Danielle, you’re an amazing, compassionate, and brilliant woman and so lucky to call you my friend. George, I deeply appreciate your friendship and admire your creative mind and your passion for social justice. Sergio, I admire your ambitious spirit and your ability to manifest your goals. Raudel, I appreciate and admire your work ethic and leadership; watching you organize our volunteers this year has been truly remarkable. Lesley, thank you for keeping us grounded and for being a formidable guide and pillar of wisdom. Emilio, thank you for helping us stay connected to folks in the community and keeping up with our emails, providing us with nudges as needed.
I want to give a very special thanks to my dearest Love, Sean, for his unwavering love and support, and for helping me grow into a better person.
Thank you all once again for making the 4th Annual Pajaro Valley Pride Celebration a big success.
--Jorge Guillen, PV Pride President