“In the beginning, I was really scared of pride parades,” said Rivas, program coordinator for LGBTQ Connection Sonoma County. “But it’s an opportunity to show my community that I’m present, that I care, and that if they want to join this party, they can join it, too. If they want a place to be loved, they can find it here.”
Rivas was one of thousands who participated in the festivities that consumed Guerneville all weekend long, beginning Saturday with a march and solidarity rally in the small Russian River town and capped Sunday by the colorful pride parade and festival.
This year’s theme was “Rise Up!” and in addition to being a celebration of individuality and pride, the gathering took on a political note. Organizers urged participants to unite for LGBTQI rights, women’s rights, Native American rights, immigrant rights, voting rights, and racial and economic equality.
In these videos, several people at the parade recall their first Pride experience:
A number of parade entries took up a similar theme, including a contingent supporting John Mutz for Sonoma County sheriff. Mutz, decked out in a festive orange-colored top hat, was surrounded by friends and family in tie-dye shirts, holding peace signs.
After he said a quick hello to the crowd, his wife Heather took the microphone.
“Sometimes he forgets the most important thing, which is that he stands for the dignity and respect of all people,” she said to cheers from the crowd. “So we’re really excited to be here, thank you very much.”
The parade was led by grand marshals Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and trans activist Aydian Dowling.
The R3 Hotel’s entry, which closed the parade with music blasting from speakers, took the theme in a different direction, with a “Summer of Love” float six months in the making, said Rodger Jensen, manager and event coordinator for the hotel.
The tie-dye painted, multi-level float was covered in peace signs and disco balls, and everyone on it was dressed the part in bell bottoms and fringe vests, singing and dancing to the music as Jensen served as DJ from the back of the pickup truck pulling it along.
“I always try to find out what the theme is, and what else is going on culturally, so that’s why we did the Summer of Love this year — for the 50th anniversary,” he said. “And then ‘Rise Up’ was the theme, and come on, what did we do in the Summer of Love? We rebelled, and we rose up.”
Watch a video of the parade here (click the speaker icon in the lower right corner of the video to hear the sound):