Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

By Aaron Heier / Photo by Cali Griebel

From the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to President Obama's public support of same-sex marriage to the unveiling of the nation's first street named for slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk*, the LGBT community has seen a tremendous shift towards acceptance and equality in the past year. Help celebrate those and other important milestones at America's Pride, the 38th annual San Diego LGBT Pride Festival.

"Equality is an American value," says Pride's executive director, Dwayne Crenshaw. "The promise for America is liberty and justice for all. It is founded on the notion that all are created equal. This has been the source of America's pride contained in our Constitution, engraved on the Statue of Liberty and ingrained in our Pledge of Allegiance. Our 2012 theme boldly proclaims the LGBT community's inclusion in that pride."

This year's festivities begin Friday night, July 20, with the Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, starting with the Spirit of Stonewall Rally at the intersection of Normal Street and Harvey Milk Street, where local community leaders will raise the first Pride Flag on a new 65-foot flagpole. The revelry continues with live music, drinks and dancing in the streets.

Along with Saturday's parade and the two-day festival in Balboa Park-offering music and dancing in six diverse entertainment areas, art exhibits and food booths Saturday and Sunday-America's Pride will host an official Military Party (Saturday) and Women's Party (Sunday) at the popular University Heights gay enclave, Bourbon Street Bar & Grill.

Dance music diva and founding member of R&B supergroup Destiny's Child, Kelly Rowland was slated to headline the event, but she canceled in late-June.

British singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield will perform Sunday at the festival, while actor/comedian Sandra Bernhard will serve as Grand Marshall.

Together, the block party, parade and festival are expected to draw a crowd of nearly 200,000 people, creating San Diego's largest civic event.

"It takes nearly 1,000 volunteers and other community partners working year-round to make [Pride] a success," says Fernando Lopez, Pride's director of administration and public affairs. "Our community members who work and volunteer with Pride take great care to honor our ever-growing and diverse community."

Pride is such an undertaking that Lopez and his team are already planning the 2013 and 2014 events, giving San Diego something to be proud of years to come.

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