When Golzar Meamar moved from San Diego, “where Pride is huge,” to Santa Ynez six years ago, she realized a concentrated celebration of the valley’s LGBTQIA+ residents was lacking. “I noticed right off the bat it didn’t exist here,” she said.
Inspiration struck in 2021 when Meamar and friends decided to throw an impromptu June party, which drew more than 150 guests and included a raffle that raised a surprising amount of dough. “It made it obvious to me that this valley is totally ready to embrace Pride,” said Meamar, the owner and operator of Santa Ynez–based All Purpose Flower Fine Catering & Events. “It’s a really special place with a strong sense of community.”
Before long, the official S.Y.V. Pride nonprofit was formed, and this week, the organization is hosting four full days of festivities all over the valley to support and empower “the individuals fighting to live here authentically,” said Meamar. “We are upholding the dignity of our friends, neighbors, and especially our youth.”
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Among the events from June 22-26 are a welcome party with a deejay, drag queens, and cabaret, an evening of “Gayraoke,” a Dodgers Pride Night, and a parade through Solvang that will end with a festival featuring music, kiddie bumper cars and bounce houses, a beer garden, food vendors, and a lineup of special guests and speakers. (For the full schedule, visit syvpride.org.)
Harry Mullin, S.Y.V. Pride’s social media manager and a student at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, where he’s the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Club president, said growing up out and queer in the Santa Ynez Valley has been a “trial.” The new nonprofit will offer visibility and safe spaces that didn’t exist before. “I am thrilled to be a part of this fantastic, and long overdue, change for our Valley,” he said.
Meamar said since S.Y.V. Pride went public, she’s already heard of other LGBTQIA+ groups springing up in Santa Barbara’s traditionally more conservative North County. “That’s the thing about love,” she said. “It’s contagious.”