LGBTQ advocates of all ages and walks of life shared their journey with the community Friday night as they prepare for Santa Barbara's Pacific Pride Festival Saturday.
This year's theme is ‘Stand with Stonewall.' and for panel members, the 50th anniversary represents a moment that gave birth to a movement.
An “accidental activist,” the co-founder of the first Gay Pride March and a youth advocate all gave their Perspectives on Pride at Santa Barbara City College.
“It still doesn't seem real that a landmark civil rights case has my name on it,” said Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case, Obergefell v.Hodges.
Jim Obergefell's fight for his dying spouse legalized gay marriage in America.
“My late husband John, he died of ALS and three months before he died we got married. We lived in Ohio, could not get married in Ohio. We got married inside a chartered medical jet in Maryland. Ohio wouldn't recognize our marriage on John's death certificate so we sued the state of Ohio and the city of Cincinnati we won,” said Obergefell.
That decision brought marriage equality to the entire United States on June 26, 2015.
For Jim, his story about love loss and the law highlights how one person or group can really change the world.
“We started something 50 years ago. It imploded in someways and now it's been re-energized and sitting next to a 14-year-old freshman in high school made me feel hope,” said Ellen Broidy, PhD, co-founder of the first Gay Pride March and a member of the Gay Liberation Front.
That 14-year-old took matters into her own hands and formed the first Gender Sexuality Association at Santa Barbara Junior High.
“It's not really about how I feel about myself, it's knowing that things that I say matter. People need to hear where I’m coming from especially in areas like this there's not a lot of queer people and there's also not a lot of queer people of color and then on top of that, black people in general,” said Anaiya Boutan, 2019 Pacific Pride Foundation Youth Advocate Leader.
From Stonewall to the Supreme Court and beyond, panel members say the struggle continues but there are people ready to continue the fight.
“We are all different but we're fighting for the same thing really, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Obergefell.
The Pacific Pride Festival is free for all ages, Saturday at Chase Palm Park from noon to 7:00 p.m.