OCEANSIDE — The second annual Pride at the Beach Day celebrated the diversity of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community Oct. 10.
“It’s a community event to gather all the community together, and by community I don’t mean all the North County LGBT community, we mean everyone,” Max Disposti, chairperson of North County Lesbian Gay Bilingual Transgender Coalition, said.
“We’re inviting all the North County residents to come and get to know our LGBT families,” Disposti said. “There’s food, there’s music, there’s a lot of council members who came to speak.”
The event held at the foot of the Oceanside Pier drew more than 800 people last year and this year the crowd was estimated to be even larger.
“I think it’s important for people to see it and dispel the myths, even if they just walk by,” Curtis Fitzgard, an event volunteer, said. “Most of us are ordinary people, ‘average’.”
“Our society is becoming more open and encouraging, but we still have a lot more work to do, especially here in North County,” Fitzgard said.
Mixed in with the funnel cake and gyros booths were information booths on marriage equality and new rules for U.S. census counts that recognize same sex marriages.
“The way that it (the U.S. census) impacts the gay and lesbian community in particular is that we are for the first time going to be counting same sex married couples in addition to same sex unmarried couples,” Matt Weinstein, U.S. Census partnership specialist, said. “This is a brand new policy for us that was just recently changed over the summer by the Obama administration. The most important message is that everyone counts.”
50th District candidate Francine Busby spoke in support of civil rights at the event and stressed that it is important to be politically involved.
Busby said political issues like marriage equality warrant attention. “It’s a huge political issue, people are going to be deciding about their lives,” Busby said. “It’s a very emotional issue. It’s a civil rights issue.”
“Policies like ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ in the military — it’s time to end that,” Busby said. “With all our young men and women who want to serve, it’s a means of harassment.”
Other local politicians slated to speak included Oceanside City Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and 50th District candidate Tracy Emblem.
The event addressed tough political issues and also celebrated coming together, enjoying food and music and having a good time. Entertainment included rap bands, ballad singers and drag queen acts.
“We have this one space where we’re not the minority,” Fitzgard said.
Outside the entrance to the open-air event, three men who did not wish to give their names or the church they belong to, shouted anti-homosexual remarks and referred to the gospel and sin. Many considered the men’s remarks offensive.
“Who else needs to go through a gauntlet of that stuff to go to their own event?” Craig Roberts, of San Diego, asked.
“We truly need more tolerance in all our communities, including ours,” Disposti said.