Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Pride in Our Diversity

pride_flagSanta Cruz Pride marks the anniversary of the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality. Forty-two years ago this June, the Stonewall riots in New York were a turning point as queer people declared they would no longer stand for the status quo of harassment and persecution. California’s Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird’s article from Good Times (May 26) paints a compelling picture of the LGBTQ movement’s progress over the last 40 years. We owe trailblazers like Laird a debt of gratitude for their tireless commitment to equality and fairness.

As the LGBTQ movement matured, it became clear that our local queer community needed a home of its own—a safe and friendly space for LGBTQ-centered social opportunities and support groups. In 1989, the Diversity Center opened and for its first 10 years was completely volunteer run. Aside from the gay bars, the Center was one of very few safe spaces for LGBTQ people to gather.

Today, we have many straight allies and safe spaces are part of our culture. Gay/Straight Alliance clubs are a norm in many of our schools. Assisted living facilities exist specifically for LGBTQ seniors. Non-discrimination ordinances protect us at work and in our homes. Nonprofit and government service providers attend cultural competence trainings, and our relationships are legally recognized in many places. With all this, why do we still need an LGBTQ organization in Santa Cruz?

The civil rights movement has taught us that legal protection is just one of the first steps. Changing our deeply held and culturally engrained prejudices takes time. Despite the progressive and welcoming character of Santa Cruz County, discrimination against LGBTQ people still exists in our area, and with it a need for services.

The Diversity Center provides crucial advocacy and education, promoting fairness and equality. The Center also offers a safe space and support for those in need, like the woman coming to terms with her bisexuality who wants to preserve her marriage while living authentically; the wife whose husband has come out as transgender and is seeking support for herself and their son; the parents from rural Washington seeking a safe place to move their family where their lesbian daughter will be accepted; the 17-year-old gay paraplegic boy whose mother has kicked him out of their home and who is desperately in need of a wide range of services.

It would be impossible to demonstrate all the work The Diversity Center does in this one article, but it is important to highlight a few key programs and underscore the significance of the work they do. For 20 years, Triangle Speakers has been hosting educational speaker panels, mostly in local schools, debunking myths and stereotypes about LGBTQ people through the power of personal stories. To date, we have reached more than 45,000 people and increased the safety of LGBTQ youth in our schools.

Our 60+ Senior Program improves the lives of LGBTQ seniors through social and educational programming and by providing cultural competence trainings to agencies serving seniors, to ensure that they are welcoming. In collaboration with Planned Parenthood, the TransCare program provides a full range of services for transgender people, from support groups and low-cost therapy referrals, to hormone therapy and health services. The Queer Youth Scene works closely with the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center’s STRANGE program to support Gay Straight Alliances in our schools, develop young leaders, provide peer support, and sponsor fun, age-appropriate events for Queer Youth. Conexiones works with agencies that serve the Latino community and ensures that their staff and volunteers are knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues and comfortable working with LGBTQ clients. And our groundbreaking Rainbow Vets program addresses the unique needs of LGBTQ veterans and active duty personnel who bravely served our country while under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

This brings us back to Santa Cruz Pride—produced each year by the Diversity Center. Thirty-six years ago the first Santa Cruz Pride was an act of defiance, to proudly declare themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

While it is important that we celebrate our progress, it is more than just a party. It is an opportunity for political action, to come together with straight allies, honor and celebrate our work, and renew our commitment to fairness and equality.

For all these reasons, we hope you will join us this Sunday, June 5 for the 37th annual Santa Cruz Pride—we look forward to seeing you there!

Jim Brown is Executive Director and Adam Spickler is Board President of The Diversity Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a diversity community, advancing social justice, and promoting the health  and well-being of Santa Cruz County’s LGBTQ community. Learn more at See Events for more Pride 411.  Photo Credit: Matt Wignall

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location