Every year since 2004 the South Bay Alliance has held an Art & Music Festival at our very own Chula Vista Bayfront. This year, I was able to interview Dae Elliott, chair/co-founder of South Bay Alliance, ahead of the event and find out more about our South Bay LGBT community.
Traditionally and/or stereotypically in San Diego County, the gay community has gathered in Hillcrest. Why did you and the others decide it was important to have an organization specific to the LGBT community in the South Bay?
The LGBTQ* community lives everywhere. Certainly Hillcrest has a few more LGBT residents (about 11-12%) but we have between 7 & 8% of our residents here in South Bay that are LGBTQ*. Most of us that live here recognize this. When we started, most politicians and business people considered issues that were relevant to LGBT community as ONLY the concern of Hillcrest. They are not! So we started our organization here to raise the awareness that our neighbors, our families, our youth, our selves all have need to have an inclusive general community here in our own neighborhoods in the south bay.
Are there other organizations like yours throughout the County? How many? Where are they located?
Besides us, we have the North County Center which also puts on North County Pride in Oceanside.
Where are you from originally?
Most of my childhood was spent between Rapid City, SD and then Princeton, IN. Both very small towns!
Do you & the other members live in the South Bay now? Which city/cities?
Yes, almost all of them do live here. There are a few that are involved because they work here or have past connections with the community such as used to live here.
Why did you created a specific event, South Bay Pride?
PRIDE celebrations events are a good way to reach out to the community at large with both education and visibility. Invisibility and silence allows those that would disparage us to define us. This event shows that we are a diverse community with many interests, likes, dislikes, etc. as well as reaches out to celebrate with our allies that support us. I firmly believe that as LGBT, we should be able to feel comfortable and be ourselves in our own backyard. In addition, the goal is not not only have this annual outreach but to raise funds to create a youth center that can support those in the community that can’t find their way up to Hillcrest.
Does your organization meet during other times throughout the year? Are there regular meetings and get-togethers?
Generally, we pull off a 2-3 fundraisers/mixers throughout the year and the committee meets monthly for planning.
The South Bay is a minority-majority region with the largest group being Latinos and the second largest group are Filipinos. Does the South Bay Alliance address issues specific to these groups? What are the issues facing the Latino & Filipino LGBT communities that are different from the issues of the LGBT community in North County, for example?
That is a long explanation but let it suffice to say that the intersectionality of their identities between race, ethnicity, AND being LGBT complicates the matter. Many minority racial/ethnic populations feel it is important to be model citizens because their is a hyper vigilance with the dominant group and a tendency to make grand broad stroke judgements on the entire group. That said, it can be more difficult to come out under those circumstances. In addition, minority communities are often under served and face discrimination that impedes their ability to work. Being LGBT on top of that is a double whammy. I am not so sure I would go so far as to say this is different than North County but certainly, being a minority-majority region means we can not approach LGBT community building from the dominant white, middle class perspective. I think this is something the LGBT community at large is certainly starting to recognize.
What is the future of South Bay Alliance? What plans does your organization have?
As I mentioned before, we hope to grow the event so that it can support a youth center, a safe zone and resource place to meet for the LGBTQ* and their friends. We also hope to grow the event to a two day event. If not next year, than the year after so that it becomes a destination PRIDE event. All of this with the hope that we not only build awareness, educate and provide resources but give back to the South Bay community that has been our home!