What is SB Pride & Joy?
Why "Pride & Joy"? What is that?
Pride is the journey every LGBTQ+ person is on; joy is our purpose, and it is what we deserve. Throughout the year, we are often asked to be political, to work for change, to mind the headlines in the news. But that isn't sustainable. Joy is what sustains us — joy is the endgame, the reason we do what we do. Toni Morrison once said, “It’s not possible to constantly hold onto crisis. You have to have the love and you have to have the magic. That’s also life.” Our communities deserve to live with joy, not just struggle. Plus, our collaborating partner, ColorBloq.org has it as their tagline: "We are more than our trauma, we dare to joy."
What's your pitch; tell me in 30 seconds what this looks like?
The LGBTQ+ community in Santa Barbara is asking for more, and it deserves more. In one 4-day weekend event during LGBTQ+ History Month, we are going to accomplish 5 things: 1) Highlight joy as a necessary part of what sustains us, 2) Build connections in Santa Barbara and across the West Coast, 3) Elevate the diversity and expansiveness of the LGBTQ+ community, 4) Create events and space for the LGBTQ+ community that don't exist elsewhere on the calendar, and 5) show the gift of possibility in what we can create and do together.
Why did you pick October?
We’ll be honest: Santa Barbara in October is beautiful. The weather is still warm, the skies are clear, and it’s still room temperature outside at night. But there are important reasons why we chose October. We get to push Pride Season all the way into fall. And we get to do it with one of the largest groups within Santa Barbara’s LGBTQ+ community: UCSB and SB City College students, who aren’t in session together until the end of September. But what else is important? October is LGBTQ+ History Month; it is Filipino American History Month; it’s still Latino/a/e Heritage Month; it’s the home of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and World Mental Health Day. The date is intentional. When we talk about making sure we reach all corners of our community, we mean it.
Is Santa Barbara ready for this?
In talking with community members over the last year, we found that there is a demand for more: more art, more collaboration, more community building, and more joy. This event is a response to the community's needs. And it is an attempt to braid these needs with the reality of where we live: Santa Barbara is a gorgeous place to live and visit, and we can share that, highlight that, and build connections, with this community as our backdrop.
Is this divisive? Are you dividing the community?
There is no single way to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Our lives are different. Our experiences are different. Our needs, wants, and desires are different. That means it is impossible to create one event, one place, or one organization that covers the vastness of our communities. A stereotype says we can all be served by one approach. Seeing us as individuals who form a community asks us to use all the tools available to meet the needs of those individuals from where they are. We don't believe in scarcity and limitations of identity — we believe in abundance and expansiveness.
Why another Pride festival?
This is about Pride — and Joy. There is so much to explore; LGBTQ+ culture is rich, diverse, and expansive. Just like there are more coffee shops than Starbucks even in a small community like Santa Barbara, we believe there is room for more than one LGBTQ+ event on the calendar. And, at the end of the day, we are certain that LGBTQ+ people in our community deserve more than one time of year to celebrate our history, culture, and connections to each other. Joy should be a year-round thing, and we are motivated by that truth.
How are you different?
We want to build community up and down the West Coast. We want to show off our hometown to LGBTQ+ community leaders and organizations, and establish connections between the people here and those builders from other cities. And we want to do it by highlighting the communities that are too often left out of leadership, decision-making, and event planning roles in the LGBTQ+ community: Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islander communities. Equity asks us to do things differently.
What experience do you have?
The core planning committee has experience in event planning and logistics, community organizing, life, health, & executive coaching, nonprofit management, arts and entertainment, education, financial planning & accounting, publishing, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, and more. Plus, we are collaborating with ColorBloq.org, a narrative change publication and events space that has partnered with hundreds of LGBTQ+ voices and organizations over the last 6 years. Color Bloq has co-produced events at AfroTech, and in partnership with The Transgender District, Blue Cross Blue Shield of California, and tech firms like Twitter, Unity, Instrument, and more. We are a group of community builders and community leaders, diverse, inclusive, and overflowing with excellence.
What is your story?
Two community builders in Santa Barbara share a basic value, and when they met, they knew they had to work together. Vivian Storm and Chief Esparza carry this understanding with them: “We do this for community, not for clout.” Vivian spends her time building with others, and curating spaces where joy can thrive. Community is central to her work. As she will tell you, community doesn’t just happen. “We have to work for it.” Chief believes we can nurture a renewed sense of community in Santa Barbara, and connect this city to others, in a way that feels like home to people most often excluded from conventional LGBTQ+ narratives, celebrations, and organizations. “Let’s tell the story of all corners of our community.” As community builders do, they are bringing together a team of creators to continue making something new, something LGBTQ+ people in Santa Barbara — and all over the West Coast — deserve. Joined by Terra Cobian, Carlos Mendez (aka Angel D’Mon), and René García Hernández, this group is showcasing their combined experiences and talents to break ground on an idea whose time has come.