By Alex Cordero
Many local residents visited Central Park in Pasadena to be part of the San Gabriel Valley Pride Festival on Oct. 12. What began as a small picnic in 2001 has turned into a festival where hundreds of community residents gather to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community. The festival brings awareness to National Coming Out Day and is filled with many fun activities for the entire family, food, entertainment, and it’s a free event open to the public.
The festival also features many booths representing various resources available to the community that help and support the LGBTQ community and their families all over the San Gabriel Valley area.
A resource in Pasadena called Transition Age Youth Link (TAY Link) provides young adults between the ages of 18-24 with homeless services. A TAY Link representative at the booth informed me that this organization has been awarded a 4 million dollar fund by the state of California to help the homeless community for young adults. This organization helps youth find a safe place to live, clothing, food and assists with finding jobs as well. They also provide counseling for young adults who may need someone to talk to. TAY Link representatives are located at the Jackie Robinson Center, for more information you can contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another valuable resource adding to the variety of booths at the Pride Festival was the SGV LGBTQ Center. One of the activities this group featured was a “Coming Out Stories” session. During this session a group of people gathered in a circle and shared some of the struggles they have overcome with coming out to their friends and their families.
This was a safe space to share with one another negative experiences that came with coming out during a time when society was less educated around LGBTQ topics.
One person shared that they feel it is important for seniors in the LGBTQ community to share their stories of coming out so that younger generations realize how far more extreme times were in the past than they are now, and perhaps learn to appreciate what it means to come out to the different generations in the LGBTQ community.
They shared how in the past coming out was generally treated as a mental condition. People that came out were subjected to electric shock therapy and were sent to places of captivity where, often, youth would be victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The group asked to remain anonymous—many are fearful of coming out because of their careers—but were eager to share their experiences with me.
“We don’t really talk about that stuff now [coming out], but that’s how it was, and now is not as overt,” shared one person in the group who went on to state how common it is for people to lose their jobs for coming out, even today.
The group for seniors at the SGV LGBTQ Center meets every first and third Saturday of every month, a person in the group made sure to share this with me before I departed. “It’s important for people to get together and do gatherings like this where you can talk about stuff and share experiences so you know you’re not alone, especially with the seniors because I think there are a lot of seniors who think our resources are only for youth and the SGV LGBTQ Center offers a great peer group for seniors.”
Another valuable resource available in our neighborhood is PFLAG Pasadena. PFLAG Pasadena has an adult and youth support group. “Our mission is to build on a foundation of loving families united with LGBTQ people and allies who support one another and to educate ourselves and our communities to speak up as advocates until all hearts and minds respect, value and affirm LGBTQ people,” reads their mission statement.
A few parents at the booth shared with me that this group is a lot of fun. Typically how it works is parents and youth have a quick meet together, and then they separate into two groups where the adults can share and speak freely in a safe space about any topic concerning their LGBTQ children while the young adults spend time interacting and having fun in another area.
“We have been part of this group for years and the thing I enjoy the most is when new parents come and join our group,” said one of the parents at the booth giving me information about PFLAG.
This group meets every first Tuesday of the month from 7-9 p.m. at Neighborhood Church-Sanctuary 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd. For questions or information you may email email@example.com.