Pride march returns to Santa Rosa

Sonoma County Pride offers a weekend of diversity, rejuvenation and a space to rise together. For the first time since 2008, the parade and festivities will return to Santa Rosa. JD Donovan, Sonoma County Pride Board President, said the change of venue is an effort to bring the county together.

“The thought process behind this decision was that we are Sonoma County Pride, so we needed to be more accessible to the county as a whole,” Donovan said.

The theme for the 2018 Pride, “Together We Rise” reflects the idea of “joining together to resist bigotry and discrimination and helping the community to heal and rebuild,” according to the Sonoma County Pride website.

“The idea behind the theme is to combat hateful rhetoric and policies of the current national political leadership and to stand behind the people of the community who feel threatened by the words and actions of others who have been emboldened by the last election. The event will also embrace people who have been traumatized and dislocated after the recent tragic fires that devastated the county and surrounding areas.”

The 31st annual Sonoma County Pride Parade begins at noon on June 2, in downtown Santa Rosa on Fourth Street. The Pride Festival will continue after the parade from noon to 8 p.m. at Old Courthouse Square.

The parade will start at Fremont Park, on the intersection at Fourth and Hope Streets and marchers and floats will continue down Fourth Street to Old Courthouse Square.

This year’s Pride Parade master of ceremonies is Justin Lucas, a San Francisco- based standup comedian. The 2018 grand marshall is Alec Mapa, who played the role of Adam Benet on the popular prime time show Half & Half, as well as, Suzuki St. Pierre on Ugly Betty and Vern on Desperate Housewives.

The 2018 entertainment lineup for the Pride Festival is a mix of fun and fabulous, with headliners Wrable, an explosive power pop singer, and Jason Maek & Zaana, electronic duo with moving rap lyrics.

Wrabel was nominated for a lOIS GLAAD award for Outstanding Music Artist and was one of OUT Magazine’s 2017 OUT 100. Jason Maek & Zaana have opened for Kesha, Chet Faker, Gallant and played San Diego Pride Music Festival.

Donovan said the festivities and parade were organized with inclusivity in mind.

“This is our time to celebrate the rights and freedoms we have fought so hard to achieve. We are an all-inclusive event and welcome anyone who would like to participate in a positive way,” Donovan said.

Sonoma County Pride started in Santa Rosa around 1987 with a picnic at Juilliard Park. In 2009, with doubts the celebration could continue, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stepped in and held the parade and festival in Guerneville. It stayed in Guerneville for eight years.

During that time Sonoma Pride restructured into a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and the event continued to grow.

For those who want to still celebrate along the river, the first-ever Russian River Pride is set to take place on Aug. 26 in Guerneville.