BC SAGA Clubs “My Rainbow Road” continues with the founders of Oleander Pride

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Jaylene Collins

Olivia Garrison (left) and Brit Melson (right) during the April 14 “My Rainbow Road” series speaking about how they founded Oleander Pride.

Jaylene Collins, Reporter

The Bakersfield College’s Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) Club hosted the latest installment of their “My Rainbow Road” series via Zoom with Olivia Garrison and Brit Melson, founders of Oleander Pride, on April 14. 

This “My Rainbow Road” event focused on how Oleander, a neighborhood in Bakersfield, Pride was created. 

Garrison and Melson were both sad that Pride 2020 was canceled because of the pandemic. Wanting to still celebrate Pride, the couple decided to decorate their house with pride flags and decorations. Garrison described it as a “gay Christmas.” The goal was to decorate houses for Pride as people do for Christmas, so when people drive by they could admire the decor. Not soon after, Garrison posted their idea on social media and Oleander Pride took off. 

Garrison and Melson stated that they received a lot of support from their community. They also shared that they received some negativity from some neighbors, but with their support, they were able to overcome it. Garrison and Melson were able to get together a small committee to plan the Oleander Pride event in 2020 from the supporters and allies that had reached out. 

Garrison said they wanted to create this event to mimic the bigger Pride events so the local neighborhood community could experience it. 

“Queer and LGBTQ people– we have to have to create our own traditions,” Garrison stated. “We have traditions within our own relationship but we also want traditions within our community.”

During the event, LGBTQ people and allies from Bakersfield walked around the Oleander neighborhood, displayed flags, and created chalk art. All participants were told to wear masks and social distance at the event. Garrison stated they also raised money for the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity here in Bakersfield. 

Garrison and Melson said they were happy they were able to create an event here in Bakersfield that so many were able to find joy and take part in.

“Just seeing these kids walking around with their flags and with their mom or their dad or their grandma– it was heartwarming,” Garrison said. 

“It was truly like a celebration,” Melson added. 

Melson stated the support she and Garrison received as well as the event itself was the “dose of medicine” they needed to lift their spirits during the pandemic. 

The event closed with Garrison and Melson stating that they were thankful for the experience and that they were able to bring joy to others. 

Garrison and Melson plan to keep decorating their house for future Pride events and are planning to hold another Oleander Pride. For more information and ways to help visit the Oleander Pride Facebook.

The final installment of “My Rainbow Road” for this semester will be on April 21. More information is available on the BC SAGA Facebook.