“Raising the Bar” is the theme of the 28th annual LGBT Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival. The theme this year has a double entendre for us at pride.
Its first meaning for us, is that we, as a community are continuing to rise or set the bar in terms of our human and civil rights, accepting nothing less then full equality.
The second meaning has to do with the actual Bars, the LGBT Bars, that offered individuals a place to be themselves. When being yourself was illegal and dangerous.
Long before, we were the LGBTQ community, we were just queer, an old term for our community was the homophile movement, and there were gathering places that favored homosexuals and have operated for centuries. Way before there were political, activist, advocacy, or even social outlets there were the Bars. The places that offered queer people a chance to meet others like themselves, to find comradery and even love. A place to be among others that were like them. A place to let your hair down and relax, if only for a few moments.
For better or worst the Bars have been a part of our lives and our culture. There have been good aspects and bad, such as the high rates of substance uses and abuse within our communities. And dare I say it, just the often “messiness” of social interactions.
But within all of this came the ideas and the sense of what a community could be for us queer folk. Within a year of the Stonewall Riots we became a COMMUNITY. Political activist groups grew, community centers opened, LGBT publications came out of the shadows and changed began to happen.
Fresno Rainbow Pride has chosen to honor the space the BARS have had and continue to have in our communities.
This year’s theme, “Raising the Bar”, has brought our community back full circle to the beginning and Fresno Rainbow Pride will be honoring every Bar, and their owners, that have ever served our community here in the San Joaquin Valley as our 2018 GRAND MARSHALS of the 28th annual Fresno LGBT Parade.”