San Diego Pride returns with eclectic mix of in-person, virtual celebrations

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SAN DIEGO – It’s been more than a year since the last in-person iteration of San Diego Pride. But starting this weekend, several familiar events make a triumphant return to the community.

Organizers have planned nearly 40 events for Pride 2021 from art exhibits, a bike ride, a pool party and a march held throughout the week. One of the first, dubbed the Pride: Together Again – Art Exhibition, was held Friday at the San Diego Pride office in North Park.

But unlike in past years, there will be no parade or festival on the schedule.

Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego Pride, said the nonprofit did not have enough time to plan the two events, which typically bring a quarter of a million people to San Diego. Still, as California’s pandemic restrictions were lifted last month and with local vaccination numbers on the rise, Lopez said the organization knew it was “safer to start bringing folks together.”

“We knew we had made the right choice and we are bringing people together in these smaller outdoor safer events all throughout San Diego County,” Lopez said.

Friday’s art exhibition was well attended, a welcome sight for many a year after the celebration was held exclusively online.

“We saw the line of folks, lined up to get inside and it warmed up my heart,” said Ben Mendoza, who attended the art exhibition.

Mendoza and his partner Mark Maddox got married last year in November during the pandemic in front of the San Diego Pride office. The couple agree Pride is much more than a series of events, but a step forward for members of the LGBTQ community.

“How can we create that open and affirming space and recognize that this is an opportunity for someone to be out and in community and with folks who reflect who they are,” Maddox said.

One of the larger events planned is the Resilient Community March, planned for 10 a.m. Sunday at Balboa Park.

“We are starting in Balboa Park and we are marching into the heart of Hillcrest at that flagpole and asking people to support local LGBTQ local-owned businesses,” Lopez said.

A full list of planned events for San Diego Pride Week is available online at sdpride.org.

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