A Word From Pride

Volunteers are Making History Now (and then)

By Linda Glevy

Our community has a history of coming together to support each other. I am inspired when I learn a new piece of history of the volunteer spirit and solidarity that LGBTQIA+ folks have for each other. I think of the lesbians who supported gay men during the HIV epidemic, organizing the San Diego Blood Sisters who donated blood directly to HIV/AIDS patients and volunteering to sit by their sides when their families and doctors rejected them. 

I think of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson’s efforts to house, support and fight for their community with their Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) organization. These examples and many more have made an immense impact on our history. The common thread? All are volunteer led.

Community volunteers have greatly impacted my life. I didn’t have much community when I came out. I didn’t have people to genuinely support me as a queer person. I went to She Fest in 2021 when I was exploring my identity and finding my place. I arrived shy, not knowing what to expect, but I immediately felt welcomed and at home. I saw some familiar faces, received many (consensual) hugs, adorned myself with pronoun pins and swag, and left feeling joyful, connected, and free. This was possible because community members and volunteers gave their time to create that sacred space. This was inspiring. 

Soon after I joined the She Fest committee and I found my place. I found people who I can be myself with and explore who I am. I found lifelong friends and passions. I am grateful for the volunteers and community leaders I get to work with, and I know those welcoming and warm experiences I experienced while first discovering my queerness made all the difference. 

It’s beautiful to think that my experience volunteering is one that many share. So many of us have found home in our community through volunteerism. I encourage you to take some time this month to reflect on the volunteers who have impacted your life.  

I think of the volunteers at She Fest who made me feel at home… The volunteers who support Light Up the Cathedral make LGBTQIA+ folks from all faith backgrounds feel supported… The volunteers at the Pride Parade organize over 300 contingents and ensure 300,000 attendees are safe and having fun celebrating our community… I think of the 2,000 volunteer shifts worked to support the Pride Festival. I think of the volunteers who run our year-round programs and ensure our community is supported all year long.

I am so grateful for everyone who gives their time to support all the things that San Diego Pride does. Volunteers are making history now, just as they always have and always will.