LGBTQ community in Bakersfield celebrates pride at Stramler Park

LGBTQ community in Bakersfield  celebrates pride at Stramler Park

Connor Feliks, member of Bakersfield College GSA, shows his spirit for Bakersfield Pride on Oct. 13.

Daysi Meza, Reporter

The ninth annual Bakersfield Gay Pride Festival 2012 was held at Stramler Park on Oct. 13, in an effort to bring the gay community together in an event that celebrates who they are without feeling discriminated or pressured to hide their identities.

Bakersfield’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning organization, better known as the LGBTQ, sponsored the event by organizing the participation of different live performances from various artists, as well as the participation of other organizations that support the gay community.

Some of these organizations include: Marriage Equality U.S.A., Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, Gay Bakersfield, Tweakers Project, State Farm, Neg8 the hate, Chevron, and the First Congregational United Church of Christ.

During the event hundreds of people of all ages sat on the benches in front of the stage to watch the different performers such as belly dancers, the rock band Syster D., and Keso’hara. Many others spent some time walking around the vendors that offered food, drinks, and accessories.

The chair of Bakersfield LGBTQ, Whitney Wedell, was very excited to share some important information about the event.

“Pride is known as a market so people can buy t-shirts and rainbow stuff, but now it has become a place to get information about the community such as support groups, and health,” said Wedell. “Last year about 850 people attended to the event, and this year it seems like we will have more.

“Bakersfield Pride is an opportunity one day a year for people in the LGBTQ to gather in a place that celebrates who they are.  Here we have the chance to just be ourselves.  We think that’s really important, and we are pleased to be able to sponsor this event.”

“Gay Pride is pretty fun,” said Manual Caraballo, a Bakersfield College student and volunteer for the Bakersfield College Gay Straight Alliance. “This is actually my first year coming.  I like that everyone is friendly, and it’s a great experience to see everyone together.  We know that there will always be prejudice against us.  Prejudice is everywhere. No matter where you go there are going to be people that don’t agree with you.”

During the event people were fascinated the most by the food, drinks, and different accessories organizations were selling at the vendors.

“I love this event! It is my first year coming,” said Alex Delgado, a Bakersfield College student that attending the event.  “I like all the vendors, and all the rainbows! I went to North High School, which has the least amount of kids that are out. We were bullied and picked on all the time.  On day of silence we were forced to take off the tape from our mouths, and we were forced to talk in class.  I think they are very prejudice, but hopefully they will be more open now that there is a LGBTQ.”

Another Bakersfield College student, William Baldwin, who was participating in the event, commented on the event.

“Gay Pride is really fun,” said Baldwin. “It’s interesting to see that there is a vast community of gay people in such a conservative town. Personally, I like the fact we are gathering with people of the same community, and we are supporting one another.  I must admit there is a lot of prejudice towards the gay community, but this is what Pride is for: to let the community know that no matter how much they beat us down, we are going to come back stronger.  Unfortunately in this town, there is a lot of pressure to not show who you are.”

“This year it’s more exciting since we are in the middle of the booths, instead of the edge,” according to the adviser and professor Acosta. “We are doing outreach for BC and sharing information on resources, so that kids coming next year will a better idea of the BC experience.  We actually met 10 to 11 people here last year, who are now involved in the BC GSA.”

Acosta specified that right now BC GSA is working with LGBTQ on winter formal, not for just BC, but for high schools GSA as well. BC GSA meets on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. at Library 149.