The Santa Maria LGBTQ community is celebrating its first ever Pride event this weekend.
Audy Macdonald is secretary of House of Pride and Equality (HOPE), a new organization that has come together over the past year. After the Orlando nightclub shooting, the group organized a local vigil.
“Since then people just started coming around more, and we just thought we gotta make gay people, LGBTQ people more visible here in Santa Maria,” Macdonald said. “And so that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get the word out, we’re trying to get our faces out, we’re trying to just be out.”
While San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara have well-established Pride events each year, Macdonald said it was important to Santa Maria residents to have their own celebration locally. A spokesperson for GALA - the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast - said members of GALA and TRANZ Central Coast will be attending Santa Maria’s inaugural Pride celebration.
“Really it’s needed here. There are a lot of LGBTQ people here in Santa Maria, and there’s a lot that are a little afraid to come out, and Santa Maria needs to be welcoming and so, why not, why not do it here?” Macdonald said.
House of Pride and Equality is a bilingual organization, also known as Casa de Orgullo e Igualdad (ESPERANZA). In the process of establishing itself as a non-profit, the group recently received a grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara, enabling organizers to put on Saturday’s event. Macdonald says besides performances, dancing and food trucks, she’s looking forward to the “resource fair.”
“There’s going to be close to 35 organizations and businesses - local - that are supportive and want to be here and show their resources to the community of Santa Maria,” Macdonald said.
The event happens Saturday from noon to four p.m. in the same place as Santa Maria’s Wednesday farmers’ market, the Town Center West shopping center parking lot on the corner of Broadway and Main streets.