Clayton Pride Parade: ‘Acceptance and inclusivity saves lives.’

Clayton’s third annual Pride Parade welcomed all to Main Street on Sunday. (Pete Cruz photo)

CLAYTON, CA (June 2, 2024) — The smallest city in Contra Costa County once again hosted the largest Gay Pride Parade in the county on Sunday. Clayton welcomed all with open arms to Sunday’s celebration.

The program started with music, including the Star Spangled Banner and a performance of the James Taylor song, “Shower the People” sung by Arnold McCuller.

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier welcomed the crowd to Main Street. He gave a response to those who would attack the LGBTQIA+ community and who seek to take the country backward. “We’ve come so far,” he said. “Why do they want to go back? We’re not going back. Clayton marches with pride, stands with love.”

Looking out at the crowd, drag performer Queera Nightly asked, “Isn’t this beautiful?” Nightly, who grew up in Clayton, said, “Growing up was really hard. I came out as gay when I was 12 years old because I knew who I was at that time. My parents really struggled with that information…. It was hard, feeling isolated and like I wasn’t a part of my own community. So to be here today and see all of your beautiful shining faces, it feels like coming home.”

Drag performer Queera Nightly struggled while growing up in Clayton. (Pete Cruz photo)

Councilmember Holly Tillman spoke about the effort involved in making this annual parade a reality.

“When Clayton Pride was formed — we had our first parade in 2022 — we knew we had embarked on something special,” said Tillman. “As I’m sure you can imagine, putting on a parade is no easy feat. It takes months of planning, countless emails, chats, phone calls in the middle of the night, and sometimes tears of frustration. But there’s also encouragement, laughter, hugs, and a genuine feeling of love for everyone involved in Clayton Pride. We lead with love because we know that acceptance and inclusivity saves lives. If just one life, just one, is saved in our town or the surrounding community, then all of those efforts were worth it.”