CARLSBAD — Tears flowed and cheers erupted after the Carlsbad City Council passed a resolution declaring every June LGBTQ Pride month.
Carlsbad joins the growing list of cities throughout the state to publicly stand with the LGBTQ community, although the city’s resolution was different in it cements June as Pride month in perpetuity.
Last week, Encinitas raised the LGBTQ flag over City Hall, drawing praise from the LGBTQ community as being an ally.
Several supporters spoke about what the action means and how lifelong struggles and discrimination are still ongoing. Pride is a reference to those struggles and the revolution stemming from the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City in 1969, which ignited the LGBTQ movement.
Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, the first openly gay woman elected to office in North County, spoke for several minutes about the challenges, isolation, abandonment, high suicide rates and lack of acceptance by society over the years. Additionally, she touched on LGBTQ youth, noting 42% do not feel their community accepts them.
Schumacher is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and was also the first openly gay woman to winning a world surfing title.
“For me, my heart pounds a little hard tonight,” she said. “Mental health is a pretty significant issue in the LGBTQ community, especially with the youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death. For LGBTQ youth, they’re susceptible, really, because of the shame that comes along with what we have to deal with … and our families. They are five times likely to attempt suicide.”
Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel struggled to speak as she fought through tears and emotions, but eventually left the chambers. She said she a number of friends and family who are LGBTQ have faced acts of discrimination and racism. Bhat-Patel was the first Indian-American elected to the council in 2018.
“I have family and friends who identify,” she said. “It is hard to see people near and dear to your heart struggle for basic human rights.”
Others who spoke included Cole Kaplan, a 16-year-old senior at Carlsbad High School and president of the school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance, a student group made up of straight and LGBTQ students.
She said at times she struggled with her identity, but the club, which is the largest high school group supporting LGBTQ students in North County, has given her a place to feel safe and accepted.
“Many people in our country already recognize June as Pride month,” Cole said. “To feel accepted for something that has confused me my whole life is something that matters more than you can imagine. It is important to me to feel safe and accepted, and this what that does.”
Others relayed accounts of how Pride month is a rallying point to support and admire those individuals who have been disowned by family, bridging the gap of understanding and acceptance and fight for equal rights.
Schumacher said there are more than 30 states where it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
However, several residents spoke out against the resolution saying it doesn’t reflect community values, will cost the city money (it doesn’t) and sets precedent for other political pressure groups to follow suit. Traditionally, the council approves resolutions highlighting specific groups on an annual basis.
Mayor Matt Hall and Councilman Keith Blackburn each voted against the resolution saying other groups have not been given the same treatment.
“I’m absolutely not against LGBTQ,” Blackburn said. “I think Pride month is very important, I absolutely support it. I want to make it clear, that it’s the process we’re going through that I have a problem with.”
Above: City Council declared every June LGBTQ Pride month during its June 25 meeting. Pictured are several LGBTQ groups in North County including the Carlsbad High School Gender Sexuality Alliance club. Photo by Steve Puterski