by Gibran ‘Gibz’ Moncayo/South Kern Sol
BAKERSFIELD–The Bakersfield Pride Festival was filled with booths, people, and of course, a sea of the rainbow from flags hanging or waving and products with the rainbow print on them.
Booths varied from left to right. Some were of art, some had information, some were about advocacy and others to simply to sell their products.
The privately owned business Sunned Treasures a privately had a booth there. Adriana Garner, 21, was there to represent Sunned Treasures. Although she’s doesn’t identify herself as LGBTQ, she’s a supporter.
“Our business is lesbian-owned. I’ve been to dozens of different Prides and I also have a couple of aunts and uncles that are gay,” said Garner. “(I participate in Prides) Because everyone needs rainbow things, rainbows make me happy.”
Some of the products sold there like shirts and hats were made in Southern California.
Some attendees like Arnea Tanguma, 21, and Cristy Zavala, 18, felt at home. Tanguma and Zavala walked around the event proudly.
Tanguma has been out since she was 10, while Zavala has been out since she was in kindergarten. Both said they are avid supporters of Prides and walkouts.
“Yea most definitely. Yes, we support them, we gone to Pride events and walkouts,” they said together. “We do walkouts, we protest through signs and let everyone know we’re not going nowhere.”
“Yes, we are here to support and to show that we care about what’s going on, just being here ourselves and supporting the gay community,” added Tanguma.
The emcee of Bakersfield Pride was Billie Joe Fox, 24, who’s very open about his sexuality.
“Yes, I’m a gay male, ‘gay boy,’” Fox said, proudly. “Absolutely, I’ve been associated with the gay community here since I was 16 years old, so eight years now. I’m hosting today’s event by the way.”
At 16, Fox came out to his family but with friends he was out at 15.
“(Coming out) To family yes, it’s scary. I didn’t want anything to change,” he said. “I came out to my mom a week before I left to France, she was alone with me. Her reaction was, ‘what makes you think that?’ and I simply responded, ‘what makes you think you were straight?’”
Fox said it was advocacy and his involvement within the gay community that has kept him involves in Prides
“Absolutely, mostly for HIV prevention for youth gay males, by having a socialization group that dealt with HIV Risk reduction that had big turnouts,” he said. “We held dances that brought over 200 people, our discussion groups consisted of about 30 people. There were supporters and friends of the 30 youth there at events, one dad actually came out to these events. We also had safe sex education groups. I try to be around activism.”