Clayton parade exemplifies spirit of Pride Month

Clayton Pride Parade, 2024. (Pete Cruz photo)
Clayton Pride Parade. (Pete Cruz photo)

CLAYTON, CA (June 28, 2024) — On June 2, Clayton Pride held the third annual Clayton Pride Parade. It was a resounding success. I hope you had a chance to see it.

Clayton Pride organized three years ago to let the LGBTQ members of our community know that Clayton is a safe place where all its residents are valued, where discrimination due to gender identity and sexual orientation is not acceptable. Clayton embraces traditional values, which include appreciating neighbors for who they are and their contributions to our town.

Wanting to raise our children to reach their best does not mean excluding some children from opportunities. We are lucky to live in an abundant society where everyone can, and should, have the chance to shine in their own way.

This is the message of Pride, and the reason Clayton Pride goes to such lengths to give the town such an elaborate event every year. The Pride flag is all the colors of the rainbow, which includes cisgender heterosexual (CisHet or “straight”) allies. Most of the Clayton Pride committee members are straight allies. Many of us have gay family members and children.

The multiple letter designations may look like labels, but they throw off the narrow labels that have empowered bullying and kept so many of our neighbors closeted. Being excluded means living in fear. No one in our town should live in fear.

Pride Ball

A few weeks before the parade, PFLAG held a Pride Ball for area high schoolers who did not feel safe taking their dates to their own high school dances. Sadly, the current divisive political environment has encouraged harassment of queer youth. On top of that, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning for Pride event organizers to take extra precautions against possible disruptive groups. This had the unfortunate effect of convincing some kids to stay away from the Pride Ball, and attendance was noticeably lower this year.

The good news is that the Clayton Pride Parade had a record turnout of 58 entries, more than 40 booths and more than 4,000 attendees who all wanted to have a good time on a beautiful day. There were no incidents. The haters couldn’t compete with that much goodwill.

As one of the organizers, I got to see “backstage” as well as walk in the parade. The enthusiasm of both the participants and the attendees was heartwarming. Everyone embraced the spirit of inclusiveness. Everyone was happy to see everyone else sharing that same feeling. It was exactly what Pride is all about.

Welcoming response

The first year, only a handful of us pulled it off against the odds. We were amazed at how welcoming the town was. The second year was about using lessons learned. And the town responded with double the attendance. This year, people turned out as never before. I guess they figured we know what we’re doing by now. So, of course, we will do it again next year.

Contact Jay Hartlove at

Jay Hartlove
Jay Hartlove

Jay Hartlove is the multiple award-winning author of five fantasy novels and a musical. Concord residents for 27 years, he and his wife Denisen are the parents of two grown LGBTQ children, now happily making their way in the world.