River Community Advocates – Russian River Pride – August 2018 – Sonoma County Gazette

Did somebody say there’s gonna be another Pride parade in August at the River? Huh? Yes, yes they did!

Typically, Pride events are held in June, however, this year Guerneville will be hosting a Russian River Pride parade and festival on the on the weekend of August 25th-26th. The events will actually begin on Saturday, August 19th@ 8pm at the R3 resort, with a march to downtown for a lighting of the bridge ceremony. There will be a special Pride Art Walk on Friday, August 24th, a drag show & pink party at the R3 resort on Saturday, August 25th, and a list of events, along with the downtown Pride parade on Sunday, August 26th. All events/venues are listed on the website at  russianriverpride.org.

Sonoma County Pride celebrated it’s 31st year this year, on June 2nd in downtown Santa Rosa, with the festival after the parade being held in Courthouse Square. Until this year, Sonoma County Pride had been hosted in Guerneville for about the last 9 years. It was originally moved to Guerneville by the non-profit Russian River Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence organization. Community volunteers were passed the reins a few years ago, and started a dedicated Sonoma County Pride non-profit organization.

In a county that has one of the highest rates of same-sex marriages in the country, It became apparent that they had to start looking at other options. They found that they could host the event in Courthouse Square for a permit fee of about $300, recruit more volunteers from a larger pool, and be more accessible to the entire county, more than doubling attendance with the highest turn out in Sonoma County Pride history. 

Hey, but what about Guerneville? Guerneville has the largest concentration of LGBTQ year-round residents and visitors within Sonoma County, and has long been considered an LGBTQ resort destination, not only for people from California, but from around the world. Most everyone in this community is very accepting and supportive of LGBTQ folks.

It is also the only town within Sonoma County (or any surrounding county) that has LGBTQ bars, which have been a safe haven for LGBTQ gatherings, as well as for their straight friends and allies – R3 resort and the Rainbow Cattle Company. It just doesn’t seem right to not have a Pride celebration here. It’s what we live every day of the year in this community. 

No worries, we happen to have a few fabulous party planners that dwell among us in this part of the woods! Meet Rodger Jensen, party planner extraordinaire. For anyone who doesn’t know Rodger, he is the event planner and frequent master of ceremonies for the R3 resort in Guerneville. The R3 resort is one of the main attractions for LGBT visitors to the Russian River area. 

The R3 resort is a hotel, full bar, and great restaurant (Betty Spaghetti), that is host to LGBTQ events all summer long, complete with an outdoor tiki bar, grill, and even a disco ball hanging over the pool in the middle of the beautiful forest, all right in the middle of downtown Guerneville.   For most town parades, you will find Rodger atop the R3/Woods Resort finale float in some outlandish costume, entertaining the masses in the grand style which we have all come to cherish and look forward to in this community.

Rodger decided to re-create a local Pride event to celebrate the all of the diversity in the Russian River area, which is tailored to be more inclusive of the straight allies of the “LGBTQA” community that live here, adding the A for allies. He said there will be no judgment; everyone will be a winner, with a street fair that is inclusive of all local businesses. He really wanted to thank all of the local sponsors of the event, one of which is his own Rodger’s Play Haus productions. The full list can be found on the website at russianriverpride.org. He asked that you please support the sponsors.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the many people who have volunteered countless hours over the years, mostly behind the scenes with little to no recognition, to make Pride parades and festivals happen for all of us. Please come out and show your appreciation too. All you have to do is just show up and have some fun with us out at the River!

If you would like to learn more about the Lower River Area Community Alliances, become involved as a volunteer, or if you have some community concerns or solutions you would like to share, you can “like” our Guerneville Community Alliance and/or Russian River Alliance FB pages, or visit our website at www.russianriveralliance.org. You can also contact Mark Emmett at 707-529-0534 (Guerneville), Jeniffer Wertz at 707-483-7038 (Guerneville), or Chuck Ramsey at 707-239-1639 (Monte Rio).