It’s official: last month was filled with an abundance of pride, sparkle, and cheer! With festivals and marches happening all over the state in June, GSA Network is excited to bring you the highlights from our regional Pride celebrations.
Fresno kicked off Pride month by celebrating its LGBTQ community and allies on June 5th. With a stream of floats full of vibrant spirit and chants of love and resources galore, Fresno Rainbow Pride Festival showed the power and beauty in numbers. GSA Network was excited to support and provide resources to youth at the local festival. Queer youth and their adult allies stopped to visit GSA Network’s resources table to ask questions about starting a GSA and creating safer spaces on school campuses across Fresno County.
Victoria Benavides, the Central Valley Program Coordinator, distributed resources and connected youth to upcoming GSA Network events, which include: GSA Social & Mini-Training on July 14 and our GSA Activist Camps coming soon in late July and early August. Contact Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org  for more information about both! "Fresno Rainbow Pride Festival sure came early in June, but the pride within the LGBTQ community of the Central Valley continues year-round," said Victoria.
On Sunday, June 10th, GSA Network Southern California region marched in the 42nd annual Pride Parade sponsored by Christopher Street West (CSW) along with over 300 youth, advisors, alumni, and supportive adult allies. Flanked by Outstanding Youth Leader Award recipient Katy Butler and Connie Norman Spirit Award winner Steve Jimenez from LAUSD, GSA Network youth were in no short supply of pride. Having received the Youth Leader Award last year, GSA Network youth were excited to cheer on their fellow youth advocates.
GSA youth from over 30 schools marched in the parade and toted hand-made signs expressing pride, resilience, and, of course, Lady Gaga lyrics. Glee’s Nene Leaks even stopped by to talk with the youth and take pictures. Youth leaders created a buzz of their own, rallying the crowd with chants like the classic “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Homophobia has got to go!” This year’s LA Pride would not have been complete without CSW-provided tickets for all of the youth to attend the festival on Sunday, or without Trans Pride LA the following Saturday. Many thanks!
Finally, on Sunday, June 24th, over 50 youth and adult allies from Northern California descended in full super hero glory to march in the legendary San Francisco Pride Parade. They came in spandex, glitter and capes representing the power of GSA youth to change the world! Holding signs that read "GSA Power" and "Safe Schools For All" the youth received rounds of cheer and applause from the parade goers.
Youth chanted "Queer youth are under attack! What do we do? Act up! Fight back!" and "We are the queer youth! The mighty mighty queer youth" down the streets of San Francisco and passed out buttons and postcards to youth along the route.
GSA Network was even featured in the live streaming of the parade with commentary about the power of GSA youth to make their schools safer. Have a look  at 1:31:50.
GSA Network Youth Council members who marched had these awesome things to say about their experience:
"It was an inspiring experience marching alongside my fellow activists in the pride parade this year. Seeing the support of thousands at the parade gave me hope for a brighter future, one that I am proud to say I am helping make better." -- Cecelia Spencer, Vista del Lago High School
"Marching alongside activists like myself was rewarding. Getting to see people who support me and the mission I stand for was the most amazing part of the Pride celebration!" -- Raymond Ferronato, Anticoh High School
"I'm pretty sure I classify as a superhero now." - Aureliano Davila, Sequoia High School
Indeed, all GSA students are superheroes for celebrating their pride and making it better! Many thanks to the youth and adult allies who supported our Pride efforts this year. See you next June!