The past few months have been all about transitions. Personally, I’m getting accustomed to a new job, new coworkers, and a new daily routine. Then my girlfriend and I moved, requiring us to get used to a new neighborhood and a new street-sweeping schedule.
Now, as Santa Barbara wakes up after a particularly gloomy June and transitions into summer, we can look forward to a warm season full of gay pride festivals throughout California. Your community’s own Pride Festival—a free event hosted by Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF)—takes place this Saturday, July 10, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., at downtown S.B.’s Chase Palm Park.
As one of the 15 or so committee members who helped plan this year’s festival, I can assure you that 2010’s installment is bigger and better than ever. You can expect a marketplace-like vibe with a wide assortment of vendors, from nonprofits to boutiques selling their wares. Plus food booths, a beer tent, and a stellar performance lineup (be sure to check out the lesbian comedy duo That’s What She Said, as well as headliner Kimberly Cole) will keep the masses entertained throughout the day. And, for the first time in recent memory, a collective art project will allow festival-goers to actively participate in their community’s pride.
In addition, Pride’s setting at the park, with the backdrop of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, always cultivates a laid-back, family-friendly environment, one of the most treasured aspects of S.B.’s festival. Having recently returned from the frenetic setting of gay pride in San Francisco, I can attest to the uniqueness of a relaxed festival that has activities for children and encourages attendees to bring picnics and wear flip-flops.
Gay pride always offers a chance to come together as a community to celebrate, but for Santa Barbara, the festival is especially important since we lack a designated gay club or meeting place. As Colette Schabram, PPF’s development and events coordinator and head of Pride’s planning committee, explained, “Pride is the broadest, most inclusive event we can offer the gay community here. … It is also a way to educate our allies and ourselves about the issues we still face in terms of safety, equal rights, and acceptance.”
A year ago, PPF employed 32 staff members, almost all of them full-time. Now, after the governor has slashed the state’s HIV/AIDS budget, the cash-strapped nonprofit continues to offer many of the same services with only 14 part- and full-time staffers. For Schabram, that made the work of the volunteer committee all the more vital.
“I was amazed at some members who took a fundraising event—like our Rainbow Room Drag Review in June—[and] completely revamped it, sold out the house, and did it with only minimal staff support,” Schabram said. “All of the volunteers took their jobs seriously.”
According to Schabram, another key component to the success of the festival was the community members who came out en masse this year to support it. Despite a blistering recession, PPF reported an increase in VIPs, individuals who donated money specifically to Pride. “It was not only necessary to our bottom-line budget this year, but we were overwhelmed with positive feedback and extra little notes with the checks, encouraging the event,” Schabram explained.
Fortunately, the festival isn’t the only pride affair; pre-parties and after-parties abound during the week, including the highly anticipated after-party at Tonic (634 State St.) on Saturday night. Word to the wise: Purchase a ticket to the Tonic shindig at the festival to bypass the cover charge line. It’s going to be an amazing party, so you wouldn’t want to waste a minute waiting outside.
Santa Barbara’s free Pride Festival is Saturday, July 10, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., at Chase Palm Park. Call 963-3636 or visit pacificpridefestival.org for more info and a complete schedule of events.