On Saturday, July 10, nonprofit organization Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) hosted the gay pride festival, entitled Pacific Pride Festival 2010, at Chase Palm Park. More than 4,000 children and adults flocked to support the LGBT community. David Selberg, executive director of PPF, reported that alongside people of all ages, Lois Capps, Janet Wolf, Salud Carbajal, Goleta city councilmember Roger Aceves, and Santa Barbara city councilmember Grant House attended the festival to speak “passionately” about LGBT equality.
Selberg emphasized in an interview the importance and relevance of gay pride festivals, claiming “the LGBT civil rights movement really is the movement of our time.” Representatives from churches and multiple nonprofit organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign spoke out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supported fair employment for the LGBT community as well as marriage equality.
Despite the serious messages, the festival was conducted in style. It warmed up considerably in the late afternoon, but the park was a rainbow of fabulousness and pride even in the morning fog. There were rainbow balloons, flags, banners, hats, shoes, and butterflies, shimmering throughout the park in all their over-saturated glory.
Over 44 booths were set up with topics running the gamut of fortune telling, food, and food for thought. Alongside activists promoting civil rights and raising awareness for the LGBT community, vendors sold a variety of LGBT merchandise, primarily jewelry and t-shirts. One particularly controversial stand for ForeAmerica sold shirts and bumper-stickers with slogans such as “I’m Straight, Not Narrow,” “Fox Noise,” and “Moses, Jesus, Muhammad: Save us from Your Followers.” The vendor, Judy Horst, proudly said the goods were meant to be response-provoking and were usually well-received.
The atmosphere was lively but peaceful. PPF coordinator Colette Schabram said in an interview that the LGBT community has expressed a great desire for safe space, and the festival delivered. During the early afternoon, the park felt like a neighborhood summer barbecue full of happy families, gay and straight, though Selburg reported that it became a packed but still family-friendly party when headliner Kimberly Cole arrived around 4:00 p.m. And though the morning may have been cloudy, no protestors showed up to rain on the parade.
That’s not to say the festival was blip-free. Selberg reported that about $6,000 was stolen from the festival’s ticket booths when they were momentarily left unwatched. Still, Selburg hopes that this will not overshadow the memory of the otherwise successful festival. Despite the robbery, PPF raised about close to $20,000, over $1,000 more than last year.
PPF hosted the initial Santa Barbara pride festivals in the 1990s and reclaimed the job four years ago after multiple people approached Selberg in hopes that the organization could re-vitalize the event. Selberg attributed the success of the festival to its 22 volunteers and the community’s involvement and donations. According to Selberg, participation has grown steadily by about a thousand people per year for the last four years, and he expressed hope that it continues to gain momentum.
“I met people who had never been to a pride festival before. I met a lot of folks who were just coming out of the closet and identifying newly as LBGT,” Selberg observed of those in attendance. Both Selberg and Schabram acknowledged that although Santa Barbara is very inclusive, there are no designated gay bars, neighborhoods, or business districts.
“It’s hard for the LBGT community and its members to gather in Santa Barbara County, and events like pride festivals are so important,” Selberg said. “Pride festivals help us feel less isolated, more included.”