Sweltering heats did not keep hundreds of folks from flocking to Downey’s 3rd annual Pride Festival, a celebration of gender and sexual inclusivity, on Aug. 26.
The event was hosted by the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse with assistance from the city and the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Other event sponsors included: SoCal Gas, AltaMed, Molina Healthcare, Verizon, the Law Offices of Ricardo Perez, California Credit Union, and Angel City Market. Muevelo Downey, a nightclub affiliated with Mayor Pro Tem Mario Trujillo, was also an event sponsor and hosted the festival’s official afterparty.
Food vendors, with offerings ranging from Michelada kits to spicy gummy bears, and local artisans hosted booths alongside a host of government agencies and local groups including the Los Angeles County District Attorney, The Downey Association of Realtors, and War on Lethal Fentanyl.
The family-friendly event saw scores of children playing in the summer sun and even included a petting zoo.
“Thank you for keeping it PG,” Trujillo said about community feedback on the event. “There’s no nudity, it’s really family-oriented.”
The region’s political establishment also made appearances including Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges Daniel Lowenthal and Efrain Aceves, Lakewood Mayo Ariel Pe, Lynwood Councilmember Juan Muñoz-Guevara, Paramount Councilmember Brenda Olmos, El Monte Mayor Pro Tem Martin Herrera, and West Basin Municipal Water District Director Scott Houston.
U.S. Representative Robert Garcia, who represents Downey and neighboring cities and is openly gay, was honored as Downey Pride 2023 King and joked he’d be requesting a tiara next year. Jokes aside, Garcia reminded milling crowds and beer garden attendees that this event should be about more than just partying.
“Remember to not only keep celebrating and uplifting the community but also fighting for our rights, fighting for our community, fighting for our trans brothers and sisters, fighting for undocumented LGBTQ people in our community,” Garcia said. “Those are the people we should be thinking about in these moments.”
The festival’s main stage saw performances from multiple LGBTQ performers including crowd favorite Vicky Chavarria who performed songs by legendary Tejano artist Selena. Other performers included Gracie as Jenni, Brenda Guzman, and Jessy Cruz.
The Downey Arts Coalition hosted a 5-tent art experience titled “Love is Love” for the 3rd year with local artists working in a multitude of styles and genres.
“I’m a queer Latino and I need to represent,” Hector Silva, a Los Angeles-based artist whose work explores the confluence of queer and Latino identity, said.
“I have a voice to give to those that don’t have a voice,” Silva said. “That’s why I’m an artist. I have an obligation.”
Lucas Hallare, a transmasculine youth, was awarded Downey Pride 2023 Prince and said the outpouring of support from the community shows how far Downey has come.
“This whole thing just proves to me how much progress we’ve made as a community,” Hallare said, joined on stage by past Downey Pride Princesses Zoey Luna and Dunka Shay Monroe. “I am so proud of us.”
“I remember being a little kid [and] hiding myself, believing that I would never be able to transition,” Hallare said. “But now I’m just so happy. I get to live as myself, and everyone else can too.”