How did that happen?

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If you had told me ten years ago, or even five, that I’d be on a discussion panel up in front of a crowd of strangers, telling a bit of my story, I’d have said “you’re nuts”.  That’s not something I ever thought I’d be able to do, or that anyone would find anything I had to say interesting enough to invite me.

My, have times changed.

On Monday, February 12, 2018, I was one of five panelists for the 210 Connect presentation “Use Your Power: How To Change Your Community through Civic Engagement”. I was honored to appear with Erin Garner Ford of ACT for Women and Girls; Steven Tootle, political science professor at College of the Sequoias; Amy Shuklian, Tulare County Board of Supervisors; and Daniel O’Connell, Executive Director at Central Valley Partnership.  My connection was through my activities with The Source LGBT+ Center, and as a community activist in general.

Honestly, I felt rather out of my depth with the group on the panel.

I thought it went fairly well, though. People seemed interested in what I had to say about becoming an activist in the LGBTQ community, and I was asked a couple of interesting questions about my evolution from closeted introvert, to community activist.

Now I’ll ponder some more about it, and see what, if anything, grows out of this night’s experience. One thing is for sure, I enjoyed it. It was fun!

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June is LGBT Pride Month – and boy, is it going to be busy!

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Governor Jerry Brown has issued a proclamation designating June 2017 as LGBT Pride Month in California. On Tuesday, June 6, Tulare County Supervisors Board member Amy Shuklian will also make a presentation, recognizing the first anniversary of The Source LGBT+ Center, and June as LGBT Pride Month. Notably absent this year is a proclamation from the White House, breaking an eight year tradition.

But the BIG news is happening right here in Visalia!

On Saturday, June 24, The Source LGBT+ Center will host Pride Visalia 2017. Pride Visalia will be a departure from previous Pride events held here. (I bet many of you didn’t know Visalia has held Pride events since the 90’s, right?) From the first Pride picnics in the 90’s, to Queer Visalia’s Pride in the Park events of 2008, 2009, and 2010, and Family Fest at Mooney Grove Park in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Tulare County LGBT community has a long and varied history of celebrating June Pride.  Why June? Here’s why: The Stonewall Inn.

This year, we start a new tradition. With sponsors such as Equality California, The California Endowment‘s Stayloud project, Wells Fargo Bank, and others, PRIDE VISALIA will be the largest Pride event ever held in Tulare County. Festivities begin at 10 AM and run through 6 PM, at the Old Lumberyard, 300 E. Oak Ave., Visalia. Entry donation is $5 (children under 10 years of age are free). Tickets available online here, or at the door. There will be food and merchandise vendors, live bands, entertainment, Illusions drag queen show, a kid’s zone, and tabling by local non-profits and service organizations.  Work continues on organizing this community event, and I’ll update here as more information becomes available.

Pride Visalia 2017 promises to be a historic event in local LGBT history, and with plans to make this an annual celebration, the kickoff to an even brighter future for the LGBT+ community in Visalia, Tulare County, and the central San Joaquin Valley.

Here’s a quick break-down of events that may be of interest to Tulare County residents:

June 2 – First Friday Art Walk, Visalia. The Source LGBT+ Center will be one of ten venues displaying locally created art. 5 – 8 PM, downtown Visalia.

June 3 – Fresno’s Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival. The parade starts at 10AM, in the Tower District on Olive. The festival is 11AM to 3PM, at Olive and Wishon. Festival entry donation is $5.

June 6 – “Supervisor’s Matters”, Tulare County Board of Supervisors, 7PM, 2800 W. Burrel, Visalia. Supervisor Amy Shuklian will recognize The Source LGBT+ Center for it’s one year anniversary, and June as Pride month.

June 7 – Volunteer training and orientation at The Source LGBT+ Center. Anyone wanting to be a volunteer at the community center must first complete this one-night training program, and undergo a background check. Information at 559-429-4277

June 10-11 – West Hollywood L.A. Pride (always a biggie). The parade is on Sunday, June 11, and begins at 11AM on Santa Monica Blvd, which will be closed between Fairfax and Doheny Dr. The festival is a two-day event, Saturday and Sunday.

June 24-25 – San Francisco Pride. Parade on Market Street Sunday, June 25, at 10:30 AM. Nobody does a Pride Parade like San Francisco!

Check back for updates as we approach the biggest LGBT+ party Tulare County has ever seen!

 

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