| PHOTO ESSAY
Story and photos by Jesús Valenzuela
Central Park in Salinas was transformed into a celebration for LGBTQ+ community members on Saturday October 16. From noon to 4 pm they shared their stories, visited resource booths, and enjoyed a sense of normalcy after months of being cooped up. Hundreds of people came together for the 11th annual Salinas Valley Pride Celebration that included belly dancers, speeches, and a drag show.
SVPC was last held in 2019, and COVID-19 forced cancelation of the 2020 celebration. According to Eric Mora, an organizer for SVPC, the event always takes place in October during LGBTQ+ History Month and a few days after Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.
“Despite our proximity to the greater San Francisco Bay area, social opportunities for Salinas Valley LGBTQ+ residents remain limited,” Mora said. “Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations’ mission is to create space for LGBTQ+ Salinas Valley residents to gather, to grow and to live fulfilling lives. After months of COVID-19 restrictions, I think everyone can appreciate the desire to gather among community and to celebrate. The event is a great opportunity for those who are out to have fun and perhaps even make new friends. However, we also hope that the event reaches those who are not out — for a variety of reasons — and assures them that they too are valued and loved”
Featured image: Tori Tía at Salinas Pride by Jesús Valenzuela
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