OCEANSIDE — A 20-foot pink flamingo on The Strand signaled the Pride at the Beach festival had begun Oct. 13.
The annual event supports equal rights and recognizes members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) community.
“It’s a family-friendly festival with music, vendors for profit, nonprofits, food, food trucks, an HIV testing unit,” Tina Leight-Roades, event director, said. “We’re anticipating 6,000 (attendees).”
Event goers said they attended the festival to show their support, enjoy the food and music and have fun.
“It’s great to be part of the community and show support,” Sister Ida Know, of The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, said. “It’s not just gay people who go to gay pride.”
Since the event was first held five years ago, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center has opened, and the military changed its policy to allow openly gay and lesbian men and women to serve.
“We have a very diverse population in Oceanside,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “We’re a typical California city.”
“We’re appreciative to them (North County LGBTQ) for having a center and a place young kids and the military can find some help,” he added.
At this year’s festival dozens of vendors set up booths and live entertainment played all day. Acts included San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus
and the headliner group No Angel.
“It allows people in general and those who are curious to open up to everybody,” Leight-Roades said. “It opens people’s eyes to see we’re people too.”
Strides toward tolerance have been made, but those in the LGBTQ community still face challenges.
“Some people are still in the closet and not comfortable at work or in the community being who they are,” Leight-Roades said. “They are not open to saying I’m gay or lesbian and face people not being OK with that.”