By Joannah Clemente
Riverside’s Inland Empire Pride event turned the Riverside Convention Center into a lively epicenter celebrating the LGBTQ+ community’s power of self-expression on Sept. 10.
At the heart of this year’s pride fest, “Pride Equals Power” served as a rallying cry that focused on the queer community’s fierceness, resilience and the unbreakable bonds cultivated in pursuing equal rights.
“We as a community, when we come together, we’re stronger together,” volunteer Leo Serrano said. “We are progressing and we are not going back in history. We’re not letting our rights go. We’re here united.”
The event focused on advocacy for LGBTQ+ representation, particularly within Riverside.
It offered a warm embrace to all, encouraging the type of inclusivity and visibility that has paved the way for greater understanding, acceptance and openness in society.
“Having pride and having it accessible for everyone is a huge thing. You see people who are living their true selves,” Serrano said.
Talented artists such as Jaidha Sky, DJ Aura Josh and Joey Young graced the main stage with their performances. ASL interpreters were placed on the side of the stage to guarantee anyone could enjoy the event.
Mariah Counts, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, would like to highlight the significance of voices like hers to address experiences within the community.
“There are queer kids somewhere that need to hear the things that I’m singing about and I think (that is) the role that my music plays,” Counts said.
It was a celebration of diversity. Attendees felt free to embrace their identities without fear of criticism.
“I’m dressed like this today, I feel comfortable, I feel fine because I know I’m in a community that supports me,” divaDean, a hostess at The Menagerie Bar.
To many in the queer community, events like this helped them evolve the importance of their individuality.
“It is very much about living your sexual freedom because it was so suppressed, but now because there is so much more acceptance, we’re seeing a lot more younger audiences, and so we’re evolving,” divaDean said.
Pride endures. It’s a celebration within a celebration, an expression of power within power.