CLAYTON, CA (June 18, 2022) — On Saturday, June 25, the city will join the growing, worldwide annual celebration of the LGBTQI+ community with its first Pride Parade.
Beginning at 10 a.m., the parade will follow the traditional July 4th route downtown and end with a festive event in The Grove that will offer information tables from local groups and businesses, as well as face-painting, a photo booth and other family-friendly activities.
Organized by Clayton Pride, a recently formed group of local residents, the parade will feature an impressive array of marchers: elected officials – including mayors and City Council members from Clayton and surrounding communities, county supervisors and school board members – as well as business leaders, veterans’ groups, Girl Scout troops, church groups and the Clayton Valley Charter High School drum line, to name just a few. The theme will be “All the Colors of the Rainbow.”
Clayton City Councilmember Carl “CW” Wolfe will act as master of ceremonies. Wolfe’s early support of Clayton Pride’s efforts to mount a local parade was crucial to the event’s approval.
Showing community support
Many parade participants will be marching in support of gay neighbors, family members and other loved ones in their pursuit of acceptance and respect. For Clayton Pride organizing member Dee Vieira, the event is personal.
“As the mother of a gay son and an ally for the LGBTQI+ community, having a local Pride Parade celebration shows that we want everyone in our community to feel safe and accepted,” she explained. “We are especially concerned about LGBTQI+ youth who are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their peers.”
Max Hartlove, a 17-year-old Clayton Valley student who identifies as “pansexual, gender fluid and nonbinary,” is heartened by the hard-won, grassroots efforts that made the parade possible.
“Clayton’s first LBGTQI+ Pride Parade shows that even little towns out in the suburbs have room to celebrate the queer community,” Hartlove told the Pioneer. “This parade symbolizes the growing support and acceptance of queer expression. Clayton’s Pride Parade will create the opportunity for the queer community here to be seen, heard and loved. I couldn’t be happier that Clayton is celebrating Pride this year.”
Tradition began in New York City
Clayton first acknowledged June as Pride Month with a proclamation in 2020, displaying three Pride flags in 2021, one of which was stolen.
The Pride Parade tradition began decades ago in New York City in commemoration of what has come to be known as the Stonewall Uprising. In 1969, it was illegal for same-sex people to drink and dance together in much of the United States. Most bars refused admittance to openly gay patrons, fearing police raids and fines.
The uprising occurred in June 1969 when police raided a Greenwich Village gay bar called The Stonewall Inn. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, arresting 13 of them, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement.
A watershed moment
The following June, thousands of LGBTQI+ people took to the street to demand their civil rights. Now known as the first Pride parades, the marches that took place in New York and other U.S. cities in June 1970 eventually spread throughout the country and then the world. New York City’s Pride Parade now attracts more than 2 million people annually.
In 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, commissioned local artist Gilbert Baker to make a flag for the city’s Pride celebrations. The now-ubiquitous Rainbow Flag has been redesigned several times to communicate specific identities within the LGBTQI+ community.
And this year, thanks to the efforts and concern of local residents, the flag will fly over a city united in its support of dignity and human rights for all.
Pamela Michael is a writer and communications specialist who has lived in Curry Canyon for twenty years.