An annual family festival geared towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender culture united the San Gabriel Valley community at large on Sept. 28 at Pasadena’s Memorial Park.

According to the organization’s president Aaron Saenz, the purpose of the event was to educate and raise awareness about the LGBT culture and to instill a sense of pride and respect among members of the LGBT community.

SGV Pride’s theme this year was “Pride Is!” which was chosen after careful deliberation with other board members. The theme was purposely left open-ended.

“We really wanted to celebrate that marriage equality is now legal and all these things that have happened in our community that are finally positive,” Saenz said. “That’s why we added the exclamation point ‘Pride Is!.’ And we’re going to leave it to the community to unveil what pride is to them.”

“What is pride?” secretary Mitch Braiman mused. “Pride is political, pride is unity…to some people it means people, some people it means community. We came up with the first two words, the rest is up to each person. … It’s left for the interpretation of how pride affects everyone differently and what it means to them.”

Although the event included numerous events such as bingo hosted by the eccentric Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dressed in drag, a classic car show, a Tom of Finland exotic art exhibit, myriad vendors as well as HIV testing, the SGV Pride’s goal deviated from stereotypical perceptions of these types of events.

“[This] event is important to our community because it brings personal and community empowerment back to what has transformed into a party festival with the larger urban prides,” Saenz said. “We specifically created an event that would always be free and would always provide education to the LGBT and community at large to those who attend.”

Aside from being informational, the event was also instrumental in helping LGBT youth.

“[SGV Pride gives the youth] an alternative place to go even though it’s once a year,” said Braiman. “It shows the inclusion and it also shows the support that businesses and organizations give them.”

“The LGBT community is diverse and accepting of whoever you are or want to be,” Saenz added. “[The event] also demonstrates that the LGBT community can have a great time without the dependency on alcohol and drugs.”

Former SGV Pride secretary and current volunteer Monique LeBleu, undecided, has been involved with the planning of the event in the past.

“I wanted to be supportive so I got involved—it’s something I believe in,” LeBleu said. “I believe that anyone who wishes to get married should be able to get married. … My contribution [has been] to support an event that is trying to make a change—affect change.”

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