Sonoma County Pride 2012 – Have a Ball!
If you ask current residents of Guerneville where they’re originally from, they’ll answer “Oh, Muleshoe, Texas, or Yonkers, or Hobbs, New Mexico, or Slidell, Louisiana.” Very rarely do they say they’re “from here.” But with no hesitation they add that they’re so glad they’re here now and they consider themselves Sonomans by osmosis. And the pride and joy with which they make that proclamation is fairly obvious.
So for the last several years, local citizens have been compelled to express their good luck and appreciation by having a parade down Guerneville’s Main Street, generally followed by an outpouring of hugging and radiant smiles.
Over the years, it has grown and evolved into a mighty expression of affection, and this year’s celebration, taking place on the lush, grassy riverfront meadows of Guerneville Lodge on Sunday, June 3, should be the most monumental one yet.
The Pride parade will begin at 11 a.m. and run west to east down Main Street in Guerneville. And if this past winter’s holiday light parade is any indication, it should have more imaginative and diverse floats than ever before, and brim with more jubilation and good will.
Grand Marshalls this year are LGBT-friendly Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo and Dr. Marshall Kubota. Practicing currently in Santa Rosa with 33 years experience under his belt, Kubota has a long association with the West County Health Centers, primarily specializing in HIV/AIDS treatment and research. He also has become a leader in educating and instructing medical professionals and lay persons in ways to deal with HIV and AIDS, and continuing to be called upon by medical professionals around the world. He is a hero to many people in Lower River communities.
The festive crowd will then drift down the street to the celebration site, Guerneville Lodge at 15905 River Road, with its expansive lawn, riverfront location and huge deck-with-a-view. There will be vendors at the arts and crafts area, and a full line-up of family oriented games, including a dunk tank and an inflatable jumpy house.
Pride 2012 will see the return of Lilith’s Lounge, the Radical Faerie Freedom Village and the Pride in Wine Country Terrace, which will feature six outstanding Sonoma County wineries, including Paul Mathew Vineyards, Hart’s Desire, Moshin Vineyards, Raymond Burr, Bjornstad Cellars and de la Montanya.
The Pride Planning Committee has chosen as this year’s Mistress of Ceremonies Sister Sara Femme Fatale, a charismatic veteran MC with Women’s Weekend, Sisters Bingo and other jamborees under her slimline belt. She’s excited about her role, and the Sisters say that “parents accompanied by small children are encouraged to remember that every effort will be made to respect the family-friendly nature of this festival.”
A series of fundraisers planned by the Sisters to pay for this FREE event include a performance by Lolita Hernandez from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Chrome Lotus, 501 Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa, and “a riotously amusing variety show,” SoCo Talent Idol on June 2 at the R3Hotel (formerly the Russian River Resort). SoCo Talent Idol is the novice project of Novice Sister Yoda Layheeehooo of the Russian River Sisters. A successful novice project is a requirement for trading the white veil for a black one that indicates an advancement to fully professed status.
A very special only-in-Guerneville event will be a Commitment & Re-commitment Ceremony. Couples will gather on the patio of Guerneville Lodge at 3 p.m. The ceremony gives couples the opportunity to pledge their commitment to each other publicly before friends and family. The ceremony will be conducted en masse, but participants will have a moment to privately exchange vows or a token of their love. Friends and family are welcome to attend, and commemorative certificates will be available for each couple. There is no cost or pre-registration for this event. Just show up!
One of the celebration’s most stunning features will be the entertainment. The heady lineup includes Safety Orange, a high energy surf music band from San Diego; the “sultry experimental sound” of Audrey Howard and the Misters; a high energy four-piece band from San Francisco, The Del Mars, beachy and dance-oriented calorie burners; the “electronic primitivism” of a duo called Adonisaurus, which “will fossilize all preconceived notions of electronica;” Tehya, featuring diverse influence from the ’50s until now; Finding Stella, with two front women indulging in a classic rock spirit guaranteed to warm the crowd; Society’s Child, a five-piece group channeling echoes of Jefferson Airplane; and singer-songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine, a prize-winner at West Coast Songwriter’s Association.
Additionally, Metropolitan Community Church of the Redwood Empire will host a Pride Pancake Breakfast from 9 to 11a.m., a benefit for the World AIDS Day Quilt Display,which will take place at Odd Fellows Hall, 16219 First St. (one block over from Main Street). Breakfast will include pancakes, eggs, meat and juice or coffee for $9. The Pride Committee encourages revelers to arrive early and come have breakfast before the parade.
The 6th Annual Pride Interfaith Service – Gay By Nature will conclude the 2012 Sonoma County Pride Parade & Celebration week. The service will be held 7-8:15 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at Christ Church United Methodist, 1717 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. It “will bring together religious leaders and musicians from diverse religious traditions within Sonoma County to acknowledge and celebrate the spiritual presence found in every Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Questioning and Straight person.”
The Russian River Sisters Pride Planning Committee promises “more GLITTER, more GLAM and more INDULGENCE!” Pride Chair, Sister Scarlet Equality Billows says, “We really need the community to get involved if we are to craft an event that captures the essence of LGBTQI
life in Sonoma County.”
There are many communities throughout America that make it a point to practice tolerance, but living a life of love and acceptance, regardless of preferences, is Guerneville’s hallmark, and the community interaction and warm acceptance is what makes it so unique and special. No wonder its citizens feel so proud.