Pride Fest celebrates LGBTQ


Lizette Chavez

Kelsey Morrow checks her ukulele before going up on stage to open at Pride Fest.

Alexandra Apatiga, Reporter

Stramler Park held the 14th annual Bakersfield Pride Festival Oct. 7, with local vendors and businesses, community organizations, and live entertainment for attendees to enjoy.

The Bakersfield Pride Fest, which began back in 2004, has grown in both visitor turn-out and community involvement. Shelby Gonzales, a veteran organizer for Bakersfield Pride and member of the Board of Directors Bakersfield LGBTQ, elaborated on how much the event has expanded alongside the community.

“Our pride started out relatively small, with the first few prides at the Kern County Museum of Art in downtown Bakersfield” said Gonzales. “At the beginning, we had to reach out to people to get involved in pride and see what we were about. Now people seek us out because they know how big Bakersfield Pride can get.”

What started out as a community event attracting only a few hundred people, explained Gonzales, has now grown to over 1,000 attendees, over 50 vendors, and the addition of live music, engaging entertainment, and family friendly activities for everyone to enjoy.

With each pride gradually growing in presence and size, Gonzales shared that members and allies of LGBTQ community as well as the general public in Bakersfield have come to Pride Fest knowing it to be a safe space of acceptance.

“Bakersfield is a very conservative community” said Gonzales, “and we tend to forget or push away certain members who are a part of our community.”

“It’s important to have pride because, no matter where you’re coming from or who you are, it brings unity and resources to those who need it the most.”

Lizette Chavez
Emily Fisher makes sure that her stand is in order for her Bi and Pansexual awareness stand.

Various community organizations and projects like the Bakersfield Burrito Project and the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield who were present at Bakersfield Pride provided resources, free materials, and insight into their programs.

The Bakersfield’s AIDS Project, a non-profit HIV hospice home run by volunteers and donations, provides care and resources to the community. It is the only HIV hospice home in the Bakersfield community.

Phillip Castro, a volunteer for BAP, says that their organization has been involved with the Bakersfield Pride Festival for more than five years. “Pride reached out to us through the LGBTQ President, Whitney Weddell,” said Castro. “She plays a huge role in Pride here in Bakersfield and without her, we wouldn’t be here so we always try to give back to her and to Pride.”

According to Castro, the vast majority of attendees today are youth. “I remember when I was in high school, I was never exposed to this sort of environment,” said Castro, “so to see so many young people participating in Pride, it really speaks to how times have changed when it comes to the LGBTQ community.”

Among the many who attended the Bakersfield Pride Festival was Kelsey Morrow, who is a Bakersfield College student and member of the music band Bandrew Jackson.

Morrow expressed how this pride was the first pride event that she has ever attended, as well as the first time she has ever opened for an event.

“It’s a little daunting coming to your first pride,” said Morrow, “but I’ve always wanted to attend the pride here at Bakersfield and when I was told if I could perform on stage, I saw it as the best time to come.”

Morrow explained that pride gives people the opportunity to seek out allies and a safe place to be themselves.

“It’s comforting to see our community come together and have an open conversation about our struggles and triumphs, especially in our current political climate.”

“It is important for us to guide younger generations and let them know it’s ok to be who they are and that whoever they may like is ok too” said Morrow.