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Story by Valeria Rodríguez Pedroza
The Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center is abuzz with excitement over the 3rd Annual Illuminate Our Pride street festival on June 25 in downtown Fresno. The event celebrated Queer folks, their journeys, accomplishments, and resilience in the face of countless obstacles. It also highlighted the month-long effort to raise funds for Give OUT Day, a national fundraising campaign focused on LGBTQ+ non-profit organizations.
Illuminate Our Pride is a lively street festival for people of all ages and was held on Fulton Street right outside the Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Attendees enjoyed live music, drag performances, and delicious meals and treats from local LGBTQ+ and ally vendors. Staff held free drawings for gift cards, goodies, and gift certificates to local businesses.
A major highlight of the event was the speaker portion. Community leaders and organizers shared their lived experiences as LGBTQ + members and allies. Many speakers reflected on how important it is to have these types of spaces, especially for youth who need support from their community.
For those who were searching specifically for local LGBTQ+ resources, Illuminate Our Pride was the perfect time to get connected! The LGBTQ+ Resource Center shared information about services, including medical resources, gender-affirming care and clothing, housing assistance, specialized in-person and online support groups, mental health resources, immigration resources, and employment assistance.
Community partners were also on-site with information about voting rights, immigrant rights, recovery assistance, COVID-19 vaccines, foster care services, health care, mental health counseling, family planning services, and more.
David, a volunteer at the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, describes his experience, “I can be myself here. For so long, I hid who I was because I didn’t feel I could fully express who I truly am. The Center has proved to be a place where I can finally be with my people!” David can often be found at community events and running the front desk, familiarizing visitors with the many benefits of becoming a client. Many other clients and volunteers have had similar experiences, often coming back to the Center with friends and family to benefit from the available resources.
An event of this magnitude requires the coordination of many moving parts, including the participation of community partners and sponsorships. Major donors include: Amazon’s Glamazon department, the City of Fresno Economic Development Department, Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza, Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez, Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias, and Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula. Their efforts to support the Queer community reflect the importance of investing in affirming spaces.
The Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Valeria Rodriguez Pedroza, said the colorful event is packed with fun but has deep meaning. “Pride events have a special feeling to them, especially when one understands their history. Original pride events were protests fighting for the rights of queer folks, and they were often met with fierce backlash and even violence. It is a privilege to now be able to have a celebration of their right to exist, their right to be loved, and their right to show up as their authentic selves.”
If you weren’t able to attend Illuminate Our Pride, there’s still time to get involved! The Give OUT Day fundraiser runs through June 30, donate today! Plus, you can follow the Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center on Instagram @fresnoeoc.lgbtq to learn more about volunteer opportunities and upcoming events. We hope to see you for Pride Month next year!
About Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center became a program of Fresno EOC in 2019. The Center provides support services to enhance the health and well-being of individuals of all ages in the LGBTQ+ community. Serving all individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, HIV, and questioning community members in the Fresno County area.The Center provides medical resources, low-cost or no-cost mental health services, substance use disorder assistance, case management, housing assistance, peer support groups, name and gender change assistance, adult and youth groups, a clothing closet, and more. Check out our request for service form for a complete list of the services provided by the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.There are also Zoom meetings for those who don’t have transportation. Plus, there is a drop- in center where people can hang out during office hours.The Center hosts free events for the community on a monthly basis, including ArtHop on the first Thursday of the month, as well as game night.

 

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