PRIDE Explorer Series
She Fest, San Diego, CA
By Stacy Sakamoto
Las Vegas PRIDE is a proud member of CAPI, InterPride and USAP. Our PRIDE Explorer Series will feature some of our favorite PRIDE events and programs from around the US and beyond!
A hop, skip, and a jump away from Las Vegas is America’s finest city — San Diego. In addition to beaches, burritos, and beers, we are fortunate to have a large, thriving LGBTQ+ community in our city. Our annual LGBTQ+ Pride festival and parade boasts over 300,000+ attendees and participants, we are home to two major LGBTQ+ serving organizations (the San Diego LGBT Center and San Diego Pride), and we recently swore-in our first openly gay mayor, Todd Gloria.
For as many reasons as there are to celebrate being LGBTQ+ in San Diego, there are also as many different ways to celebrate being LGBTQ+ in San Diego. For womxn, non-binary folks, and intentional allies, She Fest serves as an annual one-day outdoor festival for folks wanting to celebrate LGBTQ+ womxn. I’m one of the volunteers who helps organize She Fest and am grateful for the opportunity to share it with Vegas Pride Magazine’s readers.
She Fest is known for producing truly inclusive and accessible events. Our committee includes a team that ensures accessibility for people with disabilities and access needs — our flagship event is held in a park that is accessible to wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Our Accessibility team fields requests from folks with other access needs. We provide ASL interpretation on-stage and interpreters to help participants with accessibility needs attend workshops and explore our event.
We are very proud to keep She Fest a free community event. We believe financial status should never be a barrier to celebrating with the community. The event is intentionally and explicitly inclusive and affirming of trans womxn and non-binary people, a principle that has become vitally important as we see increased transphobia in LGBTQ+ womxn’s spaces. Our daytime space is also a sober space and our environment is both kid-friendly – including both parent/child and youth spaces – and (perhaps more importantly) pet friendly.
While the onset of COVID-19 has taken much from all of us, including the ability to safely meet for large gatherings in-person, it cannot take away our dedication to one another and our commitment to highlighting LGBTQ+ womxn. In the wake of the pandemic, we pivoted our in-person annual event to a virtual online bonanza with over 5-hours of Facebook live-streaming content and three workshop rooms over Zoom.
Over 13,000 people logged on throughout the day and found everything from LGBTQ+ womxn politicians talking about their experiences, to a pet fashion show. Participants learned about self-care methods, stretching and yoga from a LGBTQ+ instructor and learned from LGBTQ+ youth, mixed, mingled, and most importantly, celebrated one another.
As the pandemic marches on, so too do we. With loneliness and isolation raging, and the fate of large in-person gatherings remaining uncertain, our volunteer group continues to pivot and we’ve morphed into a team dedicated to bringing robust year-round programming to LGBTQ+ womxn in San Diego and beyond. Our efforts will continue to culminate in our annual event, but we’ve also got our sights set on spreading joy, community, and enrichment throughout the entire year through virtual events and on-demand content.
We can’t wait for you to see it! And I hope that once it’s safe to do so again, you might consider joining us in San Diego for some beaches, some burritos, some beer, and some very gay times celebrating LGBTQ+ womxn.
You can find SheFest on Instagram at @sdshefest or online at sdpride.org/shefest.
This article was originally published in the Womxn’s Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.