Proving to be the most popular event of Pacific Pride Foundation’s Pride Week Celebration, the Pacific Pride Festival held on July 7 hosted an estimated 6,000 attendees, more than 40 vendors, and headlining performers including Grammy-award winner Thelma Houston and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Chad Michaels. The festival, formerly held at Chase Palm Park, was at Leadbetter Beach for the second year in a row.
“This is easily our most widely attended event of the year,” said the festival’s chair, Tyson Halseth. “We’re very lucky that here in Santa Barbara we have such a supportive community, and it’s really great [and] very encouraging that so many people come to support this facet of our community.”
Pacific Pride Foundation is Santa Barbara’s primary lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) support and service organization and HIV/AIDS health and social service center. Established in 1976 as a drug and alcohol abuse counseling and referral center for gay men and lesbians, Pacific Pride Foundation now offers many services to the LGBTQ community — most notably the establishment of Gay Straight Student Alliances at every high school in the county and the collaboration with the Santa Barbara Police Department in delivering sensitivity trainings.
This past year has been quite successful for gay rights. New York, Maryland, and Washington all approved same-sex marriage laws, while Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Maryland have passed civil union/registered partnership laws. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy that banned openly gay people from serving in the military, was repealed, and President Obama publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage. In California, the FAIR Education Act was passed by the state’s legislators, and Proposition 8 was rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Other than the festival, Pacific Pride Week’s events included IndepenDance at EOS Lounge, Pride Girl Party at Wildcat Lounger, a short theatrical production of “On a Bench” put on by the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, and a Pride After Party at Tonic Nightclub.